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The role of the UCC’s warranties in product liability law

As explained by the Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute, product liability law generally stems from two sources: common law and the Uniform Commercial Code. The UCC’s implied warranties are particularly important in product liability suits, and these are codified in Tennessee’s code under sect. 47-2.

Sect. 42-2-314 provides an implied warranty of merchantability in certain cases. Under this law, the goods sold by a merchant must meet certain requirements to be considered merchantable:

  • The goods would pass in the trade without objection under the contract’s description
  • Fungible goods must, under the description, be of average quality
  • The goods must be appropriate for the types of purposes which they are ordinarily used
  • All units must be of the quality and quantity allowed within the variations of the agreement
  • The goods must be labeled, packaged and contained according to the agreement
  • The goods must conform to the promises stated by their labels or containers

Tennessee’s implied warranty of fitness is described under sect. 47-2-315. If a seller has reason to know that a buyer is relying on the seller to provide a good suitable for a certain purpose, that seller is required to supply a product that will in fact be fit for that purpose.

By assigning merchants with the responsibility over the quality and usability of products, as well as promises made in goods’ labels and packaging, these laws establish a baseline for consumer expectation. It can be seen from this that these implied warranties can have a substantial impact on product liability lawsuits.

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