Colonial Dodge v. Miller Case Brief

Summary of Colonial Dodge v. Miller
Michigan S. Ct. [1984]

Relevant Facts: Df ordered a Dodge station wagon from Pl which included a heavy-duty package w/ extra tires. Df picked up the wagon, met his wife, and exchanged cars. When she got home she noticed the spare tire was missing. The following morn Df notified Pl and insisted on having the spare tire. He was told there was no tire available, he informed the salesman that his check would be stopped for payment, and the wagon would be in the front of his houses for them to pick it up. He parked the car and ten days later it was towed. Pl applied for license plates, registration, and title in df’s name, Df refused the license plates. The tire was not included b/c of a nationwide shortage.

Legal Issue(s): Whether failure to include spare tire with new automobile constituted a substantial impairment in value of automobile entitling buyer to revoke his acceptance of the vehicle?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: Circuit ct judgment for seller, and buyer appealed. Ct App reversed and remanded.

On rehearing affirmed the Circuit Court. Buyer appealed; S. Ct. Reversed.

Law or Rule(s): The buyer may revoke his acceptance of a lot or commercial unit whose non-conformity substantially impairs its value to him if he has accepted it on the reasonable assumption that its nonconformity would be cured and it has not been seasonably cured. Revocation must occur w/i a reasonable time after discovery of the grounds for it and before alteration.

Court Rationale: Failure to include spare tire with new automobile constituted a substantial impairment in value of that automobile entitling buyer to revoke his acceptance of the vehicle, where defendant had ordered special package which included special tires and defendant’s occupation demanded that he travel extensively. Df’s concern w/ safety is evidenced by the fact that he ordered the special package which included the special tires. W/o a spare Df would be helpless on the freeway until the morning hours. The dangers to attendant motorist are common knowledge and Df’s fears are not unreasonable. Df notified Pl of his revocation the morning after the car was delivered to him. The Df did not discover the nonconformity before he accepted the vehicle, which does not preclude his revocation. The spare was under a fastened panel, concealed from view. Df had no duty to hold the goods other than w/ reasonable care for a time sufficient to permit the seller to remove them.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The missing spare tire did not constitute a substantial impairment in the value of the automobile and is only a trivial defect.

Defendant’s Argument: The value of the car was substantially decreased to Df as a result of the nonconformity.

DISSENT: The requisite impairment of the value of the goods to the buyer must be substantial. It is not sufficient that the nonconformance be worrisome, aggravating, or even potentially dangerous. It must be a nonconformity which diminishes the value of the goods to the buyer to a substantial degree. Not the mere possibility of a flat in the early hours. SUBJECTIVE TEST

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