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Collins v. Uniroyal, Inc.

New Jersey Superior Court
315 A.2d 30 (1973)


Facts

Martin Collins earned his living by traveling around the country performing a knife-throwing act. In 1966, Martin bought five new tires from a distributor of Uniroyal, Inc. (Uniroyal) (defendant) tires. The Uniroyal tires came with two warranties. First, Uniroyal’s lifetime warranty stated that the tires would not have any material or workmanship defects throughout the tire treads’ lifetime. Second, Uniroyal’s road-hazard warranty stated that the tires would not suffer any blowouts when used normally. Uniroyal’s warranty statement included an italicized disclaimer clause providing that the warranties did not cover consequential damages and limiting Uniroyal’s liability to repairing or replacing the tires. Consequential damages are the foreseeable, secondary damages from a breach of contract. Thus, Uniroyal’s disclaimer attempted to limit its liability to just the cost of replacing defective tires, not the secondary effects resulting from defective tires, like damaged cars or personal injuries. The disclaimer clause further disclaimed any other express or implied guarantees or warranties. Additionally, a Uniroyal advertisement stated, “If it only saves your life once, it’s a bargain.” Five months after buying the tires, Martin was driving with his family. One of the tires went out, the car flipped, and Martin died. Martin’s wife, Elizabeth Collins (plaintiff), sued Uniroyal. The trial judge took the disclaimer clause out of Uniroyal’s tire-warranty document before giving that document to the jury. The trial judge also told the jury that liability for breach of warranty was not limited to just repairing or replacing a tire. The jury found for Elizabeth and awarded her consequential damages. The appellate court affirmed. Uniroyal appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per Curiam)

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Dissent (Clifford, J.)

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