The Uniform Commercial Code appears to be well-matched to the class actions requirements of commonality, typicality, and predominance. Article 2 provides a relatively uniform body of law, with relatively minor variations. Warranties are often unvarying because they are provided by the product manufacturer. See § 2-313. The implied warranties, in Article 2, are provided to every purchaser unless disclaimed. See §§ 2-314 & 2-315. Lastly, Article 2 provides for clear remedies, including repair, replacement, and incidental and consequential damages. See §§ 2-710, 2-711, 2-714, 2-715, & 2-719. As one court summarized: "In the present case, class members purchased similar products and received the same standard warranty, thus, there are common questions of law and fact." Barden v. Hurd Millwork Co., Inc., 249 F.R.D. 316, 318 (E.D. Wis. 2008).
Warranty class actions are frequently filed when a product has a defect or performance issue that decreases its value, but does not generally injure the consumer. For example, dozens of warranty class actions were filed against Volkswagen for the diesel vehicles that were equipped with the "defeat devices." Those actions were filed under the Uniform Commercial Code because Article 2 provides a potential remedy for the economic losses (reduction in value), that cannot be recovered by traditional tort claims (which are often precluded by state law economic loss doctrines). See § 2-714 (providing for damages of the difference between the value of the goods accepted and the value they would have had if they had been as warranted).
Even when a product defect or performance issue does not lead to personal injuries (or leads to few personal injuries), the manufacture faces significantly liability from aggregated economic class action claims relying on Article 2 of the UCC. And, the cost to the company can go beyond damages awardable to the plaintiff, and include the cost of product repair or replacement, which can exceed the original product price by multiples. For example, a recent class action filed under California warranty law demanded that Volkswagen accept return of all "non-conforming vehicles": http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/ 20151012005325 /en/Hagens-Berman-Quinn-Emanuel-File-California-Class. Thus, in addition to regulatory penalties and paying damages, Volkswagen could potentially be required to absorb the cost of thousands of returned vehicles.
There are potential ways to defeat certification of a warranty class action. Broadly speaking, a warranty is a representation about the qualities of a product. See §§ 2-314 & 2-315. Article 2 of the UCC covers contracts for the sale of goods. A warranty claim is therefore a contract-based claim. Since a warranty is a contract, issues can arise in determining what representations became part of the bargain. And, for example, some courts have concluded that determining what comprises the warranty would require individualized proof, precluding commonality. See Pagliaroni v. Mastic Home Exteriors, Inc., 2015 WL 5568624, at *11 (D. Mass. Sept. 22, 2015).
In addition, even where the plaintiff asserts that the representations were all uniform, the law and the consumer's expectations may not be identical. Not all product purchasers may have read or relied upon the warranty in purchasing the product. Also, some states may not require pre-purchase reliance, while other states may. The dichotomy between states that require reliance and those that do not, coupled with the individualized nature of an inquiry into reliance, has led some courts to deny certification. See In re General Motors Dex-Cool Products Liability Litigation, 241 F.R.D. 305, 319-320 (S.D. Ill. 2007).
While each product and warranty is different, a warranty class action can be vulnerable to an attack on the uniformity of the warranty, consumer reliance on the warranty, and variance among the states' laws. Some consumers may never experience performance issues or defects; therefore, the actual number of warranty claims, and the corresponding cost of correcting those issues, will likely be fewer than the broad class of all purchasers in a warranty class action. Defeating class certification of class action warranty claims can reduce potential legal exposure from devastating to manageable.