Notice to Manufacturer Within ''Reasonable Time'' in California Warranty Claims

For purposes of giving notice of a breach of warranty claim, the buyer is normally required to act within "a reasonable time." (Cal. U. Com. Code, 2607, subd. (3)(A); 4 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (10th ed. 2005) Sales, 201, p. 181.) Under California Uniform Commercial Code section 2725, subdivision (2), a cause of action for breach of warranty extending to future performance accrues when the breach is or should have been discovered. Here, the lifetime action/case parts warranty language requires a showing of a defect in material or workmanship, for Defendants to become obligated to repair the defect without charge, upon receiving notice within a reasonable time of a known defect. Likewise, the 12-year warranty for materials and workmanship is phrased in terms of defects, of which notice must be given. In Fieldstone Co. v. Briggs Plumbing Products, Inc. (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 357, 369, the Court outlined the statutory requirements for giving a manufacturer "reasonable notice" of breach of any express warranties. (Cal. U. Com. Code, 2607, subd. (3)(A).) The Court stated: "The question of whether notice was reasonable must be determined from the particular circumstances and, where but one inference can be drawn from undisputed facts, the issue may be determined as a matter of law. " (Fieldstone, supra, at p. 370.) There, the plaintiff purchaser knew the products (sinks) were defective for several years before giving warranty notice to the sellers. Based on all those circumstances, we found that plaintiff had not acted in a reasonably timely manner in giving notice (being generally aware of problems, although possibly not the specific causes of the problems). (Id. at pp. 369-371.)