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Your new chest freezer comes with one flaw: frost builds up along part of the rim between the lid and body on one side of the freezer.

You experiment by not defrosting the freezer for several weeks. A thin rim of frost appears on all walls of the freezer, except in the spot you first noticed. In that spot, frost has built up to approximately one-half inch, deeper than in the remainder of the freezer. You conclude the freezer must be leaking in the area where frost is accumulating.

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The manufacturer sends a service technician employed by a contract company. The technician tells you that freezers get frost buildup and you should defrost the freezer. He is unconvinced that excess buildup in one spot indicates a leak in that area. He refuses to make any repairs and leaves.

Time to get out the manufacturer’s warranty. It promises replacement of parts that fail, where the failure is caused by a defect in materials or workmanship during the one-year warranty period.

The warranty excludes many common issues that manufacturers place on products, such as service trips to teach you how to use the freezer, improper installation, delivery or maintenance, loss of food through spoilage, damage caused after delivery, replacing fuses or resetting circuit breakers, accident, fire, floods, acts of God, incidental damage caused by defects in the appliance and products that cannot be accessed for service.

None of the exclusions applies to you, but the manufacturer refuses to take any further steps to attempt to stop the freezer from leaking.

Can you sue for breach of warranty?

Based on the facts provided, unless you took some action that likely caused the leak, you should be able to take legal action. A breach of warranty is legally defined as “a broken promise about a product made by either a manufacturer or a seller.” But if the product is three years old or older, the law does not allow you to sue for breach of warranty.

The terminology in breach of warranty also covers the failure of a statement or agreement by a seller of property that is a part of a contract of sale, “when the truth of the statement is necessary to the validity of the contract.” If the seller made a false statement that is not necessary for the contract to be valid, he did not breach the warranty.

In the freezer case, you can argue that the freezer was either stated or implied to be in good working order when you bought it, that it came with a one-year warranty that has not expired, and that the product is defective.

Before you run to the courthouse, be sure your claim passes the timeliness test. Maryland commercial law requires that a claim for breach of warranty must be filed within three years after the cause of action accrues. In your case, the cause of action accrued when the manufacturer’s representative refused to attempt any repairs on your freezer.

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