Cannon v. Bodensteiner Implement Co., 2017 Iowa App. LEXIS 279
COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA MARCH 22, 2017, FILED, NO. 15-0741 2017 IOWA APP. LEXIS 279Â |Â 899 N.W.2D 740Â |Â 2017 WL 1086787
Jason Cannon purchased a defective tractor for which Cannon brought numerous causes of action against Bodensteiner Implement Company (Bodensteiner). One of the claims was breach of express warranties. Cannon contended Bodensteinerâ€™s salesperson Monroe provided an express warranty that the tractor was in good condition and fit for immediate use in the manurehauling business. Bodensteiner counters no express warranties were made. Specifically, Cannon testified Monroe then assured him â€œit is fit, it is ready, it is ready, it is field ready.â€ Following this representation, Cannon instructed Monroe that he wanted the tractor and it should be brought to the dealership. Monroe admits he told Cannon â€œthe tractor was in good condition.â€ And Cannon further testified Monroe told him the tractor was â€œready to go.â€
The trial court had granted summary judgment for Bodensteiner on the issue of the express warranties. Bodensteiner also relied on the warranty disclaimers pointing out that there were no implied nor express warranties associated with the sale of the tractor. Cannon appealed the granting of summary judgment and argues that the issues of whether express warranties were created and then disclaimed are best left for the jury as a trier of fact.
The court discussed how express warranties are created. We note that Iowa Code section 554.2313(2) provides â€œan affirmation merely of the value of the goods or a statement purporting to be merely the sellerâ€™s opinion or commendation of the goods does not create a warranty.â€ See also Falcon Equip. Corp. v. Courtesy Lincoln Mercury, Inc., 536 F.2d 806, 809 (8th Cir. 1976) (per curiam) (finding the â€œadvertisements were merely â€˜puffingâ€™ and commendation of [the] product rather than statements of such specificity and import as to give rise to an express warrantyâ€). However, courts have determined the question of whether a statement constitutes â€œmerely puffingâ€ or opinion is one best left to the fact finder. See generally Redmac, Inc. v. Computerland of Peoria, 140 Ill. App. 3d 741, 743-44, 489 N.E.2d 380, 95 Ill. Dec. 159 (Ill. App. Ct. 1986); see also Tralon Corp. v. Cedarapids, Inc., 966 F. Supp. 812, 826 (N.D. Iowa 1997) (â€œWhether these statements constitute a warranty, as opposed to an expression of opinion, is a question for the trier of fact.â€).
At summary judgment, our inquiry is limited to whether a genuine issue of material fact exists. Cannon testified Monroe would not have had the tractor brought to the dealership unless Cannon agreed he wanted it. Cannon specifically testified he only wanted the tractor â€œ[i]f it is a good running tractor, if it is going to work for me.â€ Cannon testified Monroe then assured him â€œit is fit, it is ready, it is ready, it is field ready.â€ Following this representation, Cannon instructed Monroe that he wanted the tractor and it should be brought to the dealership. Monroe admits he told Cannon â€œthe tractor was in good condition.â€ And Cannon further testified Monroe told him the tractor was â€œready to go.â€
Bodensteiner relies upon the disclaimers in the sales agreement to obviate any express warranties purportedly made. Bodensteinerâ€™s defense is subject to resolution of whether Monroeâ€™s representations were mere puffing or opinion; we determine, under the facts of this case, resolution of that issue is for the fact finder.
Based upon the above, we conclude a genuine issue of fact remains whether an express warranty was made by Monroe. Therefore, the grant of summary judgment was in error, and we reverse the district courtâ€™s grant of summary judgment in favor of Bodensteiner on this claim.
Iowa law states â€œan affirmation merely of the value of the goods or a statement purporting to be merely the sellerâ€™s opinion or commendation of the goods does not create a warranty.â€ How do you reconcile this with the result of the case itself?
ETHICAL DECISION MAKING
The concern in the Cannon case is whether salespersons should be instructed to tone down the â€œhard sellâ€ by their employers. In our society, â€œfinishing the dealâ€ and securing the sale is paramount, even if it means â€œstretching the truth.â€ As a society, how should we handle this?