Boat lemon law claims and claims for breach of warranty



A. Lemon law and Boats 

Lemon law statutes do not cover boats. The New Jersey lemon law states, “Motor vehicle” means a passenger automobile or motorcycle as defined in R.S.39:1-1.”    Lemon laws and warranty law overlap.   For example, we have argued that lemon law presumption periods should be considered for evaluating period of repair. 

B. Implied Warranty of Merchantability

While lemon laws do not typically cover boats, other laws do.The Uniform Commercial Code governs sales in 49 states, and contains an implied warranty of merchantability, requiring that goods be reasonably fit and meet prevailing standards in the trade.  Where a boat is seriously defective, a claim may be made unless the boat was sold As-Is. 

C. Express Warranty 

A manufacturer or dealer may provide a warranty and suggest that so long as repairs were performed at no charge, no claim can be made.  However, the manufacturer's duty is to satisfactorily repair the problem, not try to do so, and the inability to place a vehicle in proper working condition after a reasonable number of repair attempts can create a claim for breach of express warranty.

D. Other Claims 

Where someone has been deceived or material defects concealed, a consumer fraud claim may be possible.  Where repairs were done improperly and substantial damage occurs because of that neglect, a claim for negligence is possible.  


A. Disclaimers

While proclaiming the skill and dedication of their service department, some boat dealers  have the consumer sign a disclaimer which have sometimes been enforced, particularly in New York.  They may be hidden on the back of a document so the consumer will not notice. 

B. Expert Testimony

Consumers may suggest a problem is clear or obvious but courts frequently require expert testimony of a surveyor, boat mechanic, or other qualified person.   While the consumer suggests “it is obvious” a boat should not develop a stress crack after two and a half years but the court may conclude that whether a defect exists or the occurrence due to other causes is a matter for expert testimony.   

C. Opportunity for Repair

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.   I am paying 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 a month for a vessel which is constantly in the shop and I just want my money back or another boat.   While the consumer may see himself as being patient, the law may require various attempts at repair, and in any case,  such  will be offered by the manufacturer and/or dealer.   Each will suggest they can send a qualified person to address the current problems.   Consumers frequently say they don't understand they I do not feel safe in the boat, but it is a question of choice, not misunderstanding- the manufacturer does not want the old boat any more than you do.  While lemon laws provide a quick hearing date, the boat owner may have to wait some months or even years for a trial .   The attorney in such circumstnaces should provide a fair and accurate description of the process.