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Mathews v. Rev Recreation Group, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 26, 2019

Vanessa Mathews and Randy Mathews Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
REV Recreation Group, Inc., Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued April 2, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division. No. l:15-cv-247 - William C. Lee, Judge.

          Before Hamilton, Barrett, and Scudder, Circuit Judges.

          Barrett, Circuit Judge.

         Vanessa and Randy Mathews purchased an RV, which came with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer, REV Recreation Group, Inc. The RV was riddled with problems from the time that they bought it, and these problems ultimately led the Mathews to sue REV. We sympathize with the Mathews' plight; they bought a lemon. But because they have not shown that REV failed to honor its warranties or that the warranty provisions were unconscionable, we must affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to REV.

         I.

         Vanessa and Randy Mathews purchased a Holiday Rambler Presidential RV on May 7, 2014 from Mellott Brothers Trailer Sales, Inc. The RV came with a warranty from the manufacturer, REV Recreation Group, Inc., which limited both express and implied warranties to one year from the purchase date. To take advantage of the warranty, the Mathews had to notify REV or an authorized dealer within five days of discovering a defect. Moreover, the warranty stated that "[i]f the repair or replacement remedy fails to successfully cure a defect after [REV] received a reasonable opportunity to cure the defect[], your sole and exclusive remedy shall be limited to Warrantor paying you the costs of having an independent third party perform repair(s) to the defect(s)." The Mathews were told about the warranty when they bought the RV, but they were not initially given a hard copy.

         The Mathews say that they encountered problems with the RV almost as soon as they drove it off the lot. They called the dealership to report that there were issues with the interior lights, the refrigerator, and the leveling system. The Mellott Brothers service manager recommended that they go to an auto parts store and replace the fuses in order to fix the issues, which they did. The Mathews say that they also noticed other problems on this first trip: water leaked from the shower, and the TV and DVD player didn't work. But they didn't contact anyone about these issues.

         A month later, the Mathews went on another trip and claim to have had even more difficulty: the converter was blowing fuses, the leveling jacks worked only intermittently, the curbside slide cable broke, and there were still problems with the TV and DVD player. After calling the Mellott Brothers again, the Mathews were given the number for REV so that they could locate an authorized repair center. REV told them that they could go to a local dealer near them, Johnson's RV, but would need to obtain approval from REV before the dealer performed repairs that would be covered under the warranty. Johnson's RV completed the repairs and told the Mathews that the repair work was covered, but neither the Mathews nor anyone from Johnson's RV ever contacted REV about this work (though notably, the Mathews were never forced to pay for the repairs). This happened again a few months later when Johnson's RV fixed the curbside slide cable-no one notified REV that repair work had been done.

         Around a month later, the Mathews contacted REV to inform them that they were having issues with the RV. REV arranged to repair the RV at its factory store. After completing the repairs, it issued an extended goodwill warranty for "defective workmanship or materials in manufacturing" -although the warranty specifically excluded an extension of the limited warranty "or any other warranties."

         In March 2015, the Mathews again contacted REV, this time about problems with the cable for the air conditioning unit, the main slide, and the sealing tape on the slides. The Mathews asked REV to buy back the RV, but REV declined to do so and instead promised to repair the issues pursuant to the warranty. REV arranged to pick up the RV to repair it and once again extended the goodwill warranty. In May 2015, REV also provided the Mathews a copy of the warranty.

         REV returned the RV to the Mathews in June 2015, and the Mathews never again took the RV to REV or any other authorized or independent dealer for repair. Instead, their attorney sent a letter to REV in July 2015 alleging that it had breached its warranties. Fed up, the Mathews filed suit soon after. In their amended complaint, they alleged breaches of express and implied warranties, as well as violations of both the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act (IDCSA) and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.[1] They claimed that REV had failed to fix the TV, DVD player, and air conditioning/slide out seals. They also asserted that in 2016, after they had filed suit, they noticed problems with the kitchen cabinets, a latent issue with the water tank, and that the rear of the coach was falling out. The Mathews conceded, however, that they did not raise this second group of issues with REV within the one-year warranty period.

         REV moved for summary judgment on all counts, and the district court granted the motion. It explained that "while the facts and evidence support the Mathews' contention that the RV had numerous problems, they do not support the allegations that REV failed to honor its warranties." Because REV was not given a reasonable opportunity to cure any defects, the court said, REV did not breach its express or implied warranties. It also concluded that the warranty's limitations were not unconscionable. And because the alleged warranty violatins had been the basis for the Matthews' claims under both the IDCSA and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the court held that those claims failed too.

         The Mathews appealed. Although, as the district court rightly noted, "[t]his case is a cluttered mess of immaterial factual disputes, unsupportable claims and maze-like presentation of arguments," we gather that the Mathews raise the same arguments before us that they did below: that REV breached express and implied ...


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