Purchasers of Defective RV Not Required to Allow Seller to Cure Defect in Order to Revoke Acceptance

When two people purchased an RV that was later found to have a defect that substantially impaired its value, the purchasers were not required to give the seller of the RV time to cure the defect before being able to revoke their acceptance and receive a refund of their purchase price. The Illinois Supreme Court held that Illinois’ statute only required allowing the seller time to cure a defect if the purchaser had accepted a commercial unit with knowledge of a defect and an agreement with the seller which contemplated the seller repairing the defect.

In April 2014, Kimberly Accettura and Adam Wozniak purchased a new 2014 Palomino RV from Vacationland, Inc. for $26,000.25. They took possession of the RV a week later. That June, they discovered water leaking into the RV from the emergency exit window. The plaintiffs then brought the RV back to Vacationland for repair, which Vacationland performed without charge.

In July 2014, the plaintiffs took the RV to Michigan. During a rainstorm, the RV continued to leak extensively into the dinette area, damaging the walls and causing electrical failure. The plaintiffs towed the RV back to Vacationland for repair later that month. Vacationland was unable to repair the defect itself, so one of its employees told the plaintiffs that it would have to send the RV to the manufacturer for repair. Neither Vacationland’s employees or the manufacturer could give the plaintiffs an estimate for how long a repair would take. On Aug. 2, before the manufacturer picked up the RV, the plaintiffs called Vacationland and verbally revoked acceptance of the RV. Despite this, the manufacturer still picked up and repaired the RV. When the RV was returned to Vacationland at the end of September, Vacationland called the plaintiffs and told them that the RV was ready for pick up. At this point, the plaintiffs’ attorney sent a letter to Vacationland confirming the earlier revocation of acceptance of the RV.

In October 2014, the plaintiffs filed a complaint in the circuit court of Kane County, seeking the return of their purchase price and other damages. Vacationland moved for summary judgment arguing that the plaintiffs’ failure to give it a reasonable opportunity to cure was fatal to their claims. The circuit court agreed and granted judgment to the defendant on all counts. The appellate court affirmed. The plaintiffs then appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Illinois Supreme Court panel began by stating that the only issue was whether the plaintiffs could revoke acceptance of the RV under Illinois’ adoption of the UCC. The panel noted that the plaintiffs’ expert opined that the damaged RV was worth 10% of its purchase price while in a damaged state and that the defendants did not rebut this testimony. The panel stated that interpretation of the particular subsection at issue was one of first impression in Illinois. The plaintiffs argued that a purchaser who was aware of a defect in a product at the time of purchase and had an agreement with the seller to repair the defect must give the seller reasonable time to cure, but that a purchaser who was unaware of a defect or relied on assurances of the seller that there was no defect could simply return the purchased item to the seller and revoke acceptance upon discovery of a defect.

The Illinois Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs’ interpretation. The panel stated that the plain language of the statute suggested that the legislature intended to allow a buyer to revoke acceptance of a substantially impaired commercial unit under two separate and distinct circumstances. The panel held that the statute did not require a buyer to give a seller the opportunity to cure if the buyer was unaware of the defect because the defect was difficult to discover or because the seller assured the buyer of the unit’s conforming status. The panel, therefore, reversed the decision of the appellate court.

You can look at the Court’s full decision here.

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