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Figgie International, Inc. v. Destileria Serralles, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
190 F.3d 252 (1999)
Rum bottler Destileria Serralles, Inc. (defendant), contracted with Figgie International, Inc. (plaintiff), to provide bottle-labelling equipment. The equipment never worked properly, despite Figgie’s repeated attempts to repair it. After nine months, Serralles returned the equipment, and Figgie refunded the purchase price, but Serralles wanted to recover the losses caused by the equipment failure and delay in obtaining an alternative, in addition to the refund. Figgie sued, requesting a declaration that both the contract terms and trade usages in the bottle-labelling industry limited Serralles’s remedy to repair, refund, or replacement. Because Figgie lost its copy of the contract during a reorganization, it relied on standard terms and conditions that purportedly accompanied every sales contract that Serralles entered at the time. Serralles produced its copy of the agreement, with the last page referencing “additional general terms and conditions of sale printed on the reverse hereof,” but the back of the page was blank. Figgie claimed that the blank page was a copying error but conceded that a factual dispute remained as to whether the written standards and conditions accompanied the contract. In the alternative, Figgie argued that the bottle-labelling industry always limited the buyer’s remedy to repair, replacement, or refund. Several people experienced in the industry submitted affidavits supporting Figgie’s position. The trial court granted summary judgment for Figgie. Serralles brought an appeal disputing the trade usage and arguing that the breach entitled it to all the remedies available under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC.), including consequential losses caused by the equipment failure.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Traxler, J.)
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