HOUSE BILL NO. 96
AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 AND 2 AND SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 6 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CERTAIN FARM EQUIPMENT WARRANTIES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Title 6, of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new Chapter 50A to read as follows:
"CHAPTER 50A. FARM EQUIPMENT WARRANTIES
As used in this Chapter:
(a) 'Consumer' means a purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, of a new farm tractor, a person to whom the new farm tractor is transferred for the same purposes during the duration of an express warranty applicable to the farm tractor and any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce the terms of the warranty. In the case of an agricultural vehicle within the warranty period, the sale must be made through an authorized farm equipment dealer.
(a) 'Fair Rental Value' means the rental value calculated in accordance with the
'Tractor and Farm Equipment Trade-In Guide' published by the National Farm and Power Equipment Dealers Association.
(a) 'Farm Tractor' means any self-propelled vehicle which is designed primarily
for pulling or propelling agricultural machinery and implements and is used principally in the occupation or business of farming, including an implement of husbandry that is self-propelled.
(a) 'Manufacturer' means a person engaged in the business of manufacturing,
assembling, or distributing farm tractors, who under normal business conditions during the year, manufactures, assembles, or distributes to dealers at least ten new farm tractors.
(a) 'Manufacturer's Express Warranty; Warranty' mean the written warranty of the
manufacturer of a new farm tractor of its condition and fitness for use, including any terms of conditions precedent to the enforcement of obligations under that warranty.
(a) 'Nonconformity' means any condition of the farm tractor that makes it
reasonably unsuitable to use for the purpose for which it was intended.
(a) 'Reasonable Allowance For Prior Use shall mean no less than the fair rental
value of the farm tractor and shall be the sum of:
(1) that amount attributable to use by the consumer prior to the consumer's
first report of the nonconformity to the manufacturer or its authorized dealers;
(2) that amount attributable to use by the consumer during any period
subsequent to such report of the reported nonconformity; and
(3) that amount attributable to use by the consumer of the farm tractor
provided by the manufacturer or its authorized dealers while the farm tractor is out of service by reason of repair of the reported nonconformity.
§5002A. Ro_tist_to Consumer
At the time of purchase the manufacturer must provide directly to the consumer a written statement on a separate piece of paper, in 1D-point all capital type, in substantially the following form: 'IMPORTANT: IF THIS VEHICLE IS DEFECTIVE, YOU MAY BE ENTITLED UNDER STATE LAW TO REPLACEMENT OF IT OR A REFUND OF ITS PURCHASE PRICE. HOWEVER, TO BE ENTITLED TO REFUND OR REPLACEMENT, YOU MUST FIRST NOTIFY THE MANUFACTURER, ITS AGENT, OR ITS AUTHORIZED DEALER OF THE PROBLEM IN WRITING AND GIVE THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO REPAIR THE VEHICLE.'
If a farm tractor does not conform to applicable express written warranties and the consumer reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer and its authorized dealer during the term of the express written warranties or during the period of one year following the date of the original delivery of the farm tractor to the consumer, whichever is earlier, the manufacturer or its authorized dealers shall make the repairs necessary to make the farm tractor conform to the express written warranties, notwithstanding that the repairs are made after the expiration of the warranty term or the one-year period. For a self-propelled vehicle this section is limited to warranties on the engine and power train.
§5004A. Manufacturer's Duty to Refund or Replace
(a) If the manufacturer or its authorized dealers are unable to make the farm tractor conform to any applicable express written warranty by repairing or correcting any condition which substantially impairs the use or market value of the farm tractor to the consumer within the time periods and after the number of attempts specified in Subsection (b), the manufacturer, through its authorized dealer who sold the farm tractor, shall, at the option of the consumer, replace the farm tractor with a comparable one, charging the consumer only a reasonable allowance for the consumer's use of the farm tractor, or accept the return of the farm tractor from the consumer and refund to the consumer the cash purchase price, including sales tax, license fees, registration fees, and any similar governmental charges, less a reasonable allowance for prior use. Refunds shall be made to the consumer and lienholder, if any, as their
interests may appear in the county Recorder of Deeds and/or Secretary of State's Office. If no replacement or refund is made, the consumer may bring a civil action to enforce the obligation. No action may be brought unless the manufacturer has received prior direct written notification from or on behalf of the consumer and has been offered an opportunity to cure the condition alleged within a reasonable time that is not to exceed 60 business days. For a self-propelled vehicle, this section is limited to warranties on the engine and power train.
(a) The replacement or refund obligation specified in Subsection (a) shall arise if the manufacturer or its authorized dealers are unable to make the farm tractor conform to applicable express written warranties within the express written warranty term or during the period of one year following the date of the original physical delivery of the farm tractor to the consumer, whichever is the earlier date, and (1) the same nonconformity has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer or its authorized dealers, but such nonconformity continues to exist; or (2) the farm tractor is out of service by reason of repair of the same nonconformity for a cumulative total of 60 or more business days when the service department of the authorized dealer in possession of the farm tractor is open for purposes of repair, provided that days when the consumer has been provided by the manufacturer or its authorized dealers with the use of another farm tractor which performs the same function shall not be counted.
§5005A. Extension of Warranty
The terms of any express written warranty, the one-year period, and the 60-day repair period shall be reasonably extended by any period of time during which repair services or replacement parts are not available to the consumer because of a war, invasion, or strike, or fire, flood or other natural disaster.
If a manufacturer has established, or participates in, an informal dispute settlement procedure which substantially complies with the provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Part 703, as amended, and the requirements of this section, the provisions of Section 5004A concerning refunds or replacement do not apply to a consumer who has not first used this procedure.
(b) Findings as Evidence. The findings and decisions in an informal dispute
settlement procedure shall address and state In writing whether the consumer would be entitled to a refund or replacement under the presumptions and criteria set out in Section 5104A and are admissible as nonbinding evidence in any legal action and are not subject to further foundation requirements.
(a) Replacement or Refund. If, in an informal dispute settlement procedure, it is decided that a consumer is entitled to a replacement vehicle under Subsection (d) then the consumer has the option of selecting and receiving either a replacement vehicle or a full refund as authorized by Section 5004A. Any refund selected by a consumer shall include all amounts authorized by Section 5004A.
(d) In any informal dispute settlement procedure provided for by this section:
(1) No documents shall be received by any informal dispute settlement
arbitrators unless those documents have been provided to each of the parties in the dispute prior to the arbitrator's meeting, with an opportunity for the parties to comment on the documents in writing, or with oral presentation at the request of the arbitrators;
(2) 'Nonvoting' manufacturer or dealer representatives shall not attend or participate in the internal dispute settlement procedures unless the consumer is also present and given a chance to be heard, or unless the consumer previously consents to the manufacturer or dealer participation without the consumer's presence and participation;
(3) Consumers shall be given an adequate opportunity to contest a
manufacturer's assertion that a nonconformity falls within intended specifications for the vehicle by having the basis of the manufacturer's claim appraised by a technical expert selected and paid for by the consumer prior to the informal dispute settlement hearing;
(1) No disputes shall be heard where there has been a recent attempt by the manufacturer to repair a consumer's vehicle, but no response has yet been received by the informal dispute arbitrators from the consumer as to whether the repairs were successfully completed. This provision shall not prejudice a consumer's
rights under this section nor shall it extend the informal dispute mechanism's 40—day time limit for deciding disputes, as established by the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Part 703; and
(2) The manufacturer shall provide and the informal dispute settlement
arbitrators shall consider all information relevant to resolving the dispute, such as the prior dispute records and information required by the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Part 703.6, and any relevant technical service bulletins which may have been issued by the manufacturer or lessor regarding the motor vehicle being disputed.
(1) Any decision reached under this Section shall be binding on the
(e) Exhaustion of Settlement Remedy. No consumer shall be required to first participate in an informal dispute settlement procedure before filing an action in Superior Court if the informal dispute settlement procedure does not comply with the requirements of this section, notwithstanding the procedure's compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Part 703.
(a) Civil Remedy. Any consumer injured by a violation of this section may bring a civil action to enforce this section and recover costs and disbursements including reasonable attorney's fees.
(a) Affirmative Defenses. It shall be an affirmative defense to claim that (1)
the alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair such use and market value or (2) a nonconformity is the result of abuse or neglect, or of modifications or alterations of the farm tractor not authorized by the manufacturer.
§5007A. Limitation on Actions
Any action brought under this Chapter shall be commenced within six months following (1) expiration of the express written warranty term, or (2) one year following the date of the original delivery of the farm tractor to the customer, whichever is later.
§5008A. Remedy Nonexclusive
Nothing in this section limits the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.
§5009A. The Oivision of Consumer Affairs shall promulgate necessary rules and
regulations to implement the purposes of this Chapter and shall annually evaluate and certify whether any informal dispute settlement procedure utilized or sought to be utilized under this Chapter complies with the provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16. Part 703."
Approved June 29, 1987.