Consumer Law

Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Merchant for Breach of Warranty? Can I Recover Attorneys’ Fees and Court Costs If I Win?

By Amy Loftsgordon, Attorney
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act allows you to file a lawsuit against the warrantor if you buy a defective product. If you win the case in court, you can recover reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs.

Yes and yes. If you buy an item that comes with a written warranty, and that item is defective, you can file a lawsuit against the warrantor (the person or company that made the warranty). But first you need to “exhaust” your warranty remedies. This means that you must have tried, without success, to take advantage of your remedies, which might include getting a replacement, repair, or refund. If you win your breach of warranty case in court, you can recover attorneys' fees and court costs.

You can handle the suit yourself in small claims court or, if your warranty issue is complicated or there's a lot of money involved, you might want to hire a lawyer to file the lawsuit for you. Most lawsuits under the Act go through state court because of strict federal jurisdictional requirements—you need to claim at least $50,000 in economic damages to get into federal court. However, cases involving larger amounts and multiple consumers sometimes go to federal court as class action suits.

If you’re thinking about filing a breach of warranty suit, consider contacting a consumer protection lawyer who deals with warranties to help you with the case. To find a lawyer, ask people you trust for recommendations or check with your local bar association for a referral. You can also search for an attorney on Lawyers.com or Nolo.com.

Go to the main warranty FAQ page.

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