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Kitchen Beautiful v. Sullivan

A-2650-01T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

UCC; WARRANTIES—A mere statement that a finished product would match an agreed-upon sample is not a warranty that requires inclusion of exclusions or limitations as would be otherwise required under the UCC.

A homeowner signed a contract for kitchen cabinet re-facing and miscellaneous other items. Before signing the contract, she was provided with a sample cabinet door “that was maple with an almond pickled finish” to view in the lighting conditions of her own kitchen. The customer said that she “relied upon this sample door to pick the wood products to be installed in her kitchen.” The sample door had a sticker on the reverse side saying that “[s]ince wood is a product of natural growth, no two samples will look exactly the same. Therefore, your finished product may not look identical to this sample.” Further, the sticker said that the sample was not valid after a certain date and the supplier explained to the homeowner “that the sample door was not valid after [that date] because the finish would mellow over time.” The homeowner admitted that her only dispute with the cabinet company was that “she believed that the veneer and the doors to be installed did not match in color.” The lower court held that the Uniform Commercial Code applied and the Code provided “an express warranty that the goods shall conform to the sample.” In rejecting a Consumer Fraud Act claim, the lower court said that “it can’t be consumer fraud not to give a warranty when you have given a warranty by saying ... explicitly this sample I’m giving to you is what you’re going to get.” On appeal, the customer contended that the cabinet supplier “failed to disclose the limitation or exclusion on the guarantee or warranty that the color could not be guaranteed.” The Act requires that a seller “furnish the buyer a written copy of all guarantees or warranties made with respect to labor services, products or materials furnished in connection with home improvements.” Those guarantees or warranties are required to include any exclusions or limitations as to their scope or duration. Although warranties are not required to be part of a contract, if they are given, they are subject to the regulations. The Appellate Division believed that the warranty actually given “did not address the color of the wood, but rather stated that the type and finish of the material actually being used would be maple-almond pickled. Thus, [the cabinet supplier was] not required to provide a limitation regarding the color of the wood.

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