Heller v. U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp.
New York Court of Appeals
477 N.E. 2d 434 (1985)
Robert Heller (plaintiff) bought a motorcycle from Jim Moroney’s Harley-Davidson Sales, Inc. (Harley-Davidson) (defendant) on April 21, 1979. The motorcycle had been sold by the manufacturer, U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp. (Suzuki) (defendant), to Bakers Recreational Equipment, Inc. (Bakers), the distributor, which then sold it to Harley-Davidson, the retailer, on March 30, 1978. On July 7, 1979, Heller was involved in an accident. On February 15, 1983, Heller filed a suit against Harley-Davidson and Suzuki, alleging breaches of warranty, including express warranty, implied warranty, warranty of merchantability, and fitness for the bike’s intended use. Suzuki and Harley-Davidson raised a statute-of-limitations defense, arguing that the cause of action accrued when Bakers sold the motorcycle to Harley-Davidson more than four years before commencement of the suit. Because of this, Suzuki and Harley-Davidson maintained, the suit was barred by Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) § 2-725, which provided that a cause of action for breach of contract must be commenced within four years after it accrues. Heller argued that he was entitled to bring his suit under UCC § 2-318, which the legislature amended to remove the barrier of privity to allow third-party buyers to sue manufacturers and distributors. The special term denied Suzuki’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the cause of action accrued when Harley-Davidson sold the motorcycle to Heller. The Appellate Division reversed, agreeing with Suzuki’s position that the cause of action accrued when the motorcycle was sold to Harley-Davidson, more than four years prior to commencement of the lawsuit. Heller appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Simons, J.)
Dissent (Meyer, J.)
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