Michigan Court of Appeals Allows Consumer to Return Defective RV to Manufacturer


After years of decisions stripping consumers of their rights, the Michigan Court of Appeals finally issued a decision that upholds and affirms consumers’ rights.  In Davis v. Forest River, the consumer filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer and selling dealer for the sale of a defective RV and their failure to repair the RV.  Davis v. Forest River, Case No. 270478 (February 21, 2008).  The RV exhibited a number of defects and was out of service because of repairs for several months.  Before the trial, the consumer settled his claims with the dealer.  The jury awarded the consumer a refund, allowing him to return the defective RV.

On appeal, the manufacturer argued that under Michigan law a consumer can’t obtain a refund from a manufacturer because of a lack of “privity,” i.e., the lack of a direct sale between the manufacturer to the ultimate buyer. 

The Michigan Court of Appeals, however, rejected the manufacturer’s argument.  The appellate court found that “privity has long been categorically eliminated in Michigan as a prerequisite to purchasers bringing suit against manufacturers…”  Davis v. Forest River,  p. 3.   The court further ruled that consumers can pursue claims for rescission (cancellation)  of contract against manufacturers and that the adoption of commercial contract laws didn’t affect the abolition of privity with regard to claims for rescission by retail buyers against manufacturers.   

The decision is significant because Michigan’s Lemon Law, like many other states’ Lemon Laws, does not cover a number of high-price consumer products such as motor homes, motorcycles, boats, and snowmobiles.  As a result, consumers and manufacturers have often fought over whether consumers can obtain a refund from manufacturers.  The Davis opinion establishes that consumers are able to obtain refunds under both Michigan law and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act from manufacturers in cases where the Lemon Law doesn’t apply. 



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