This week the Texas Supreme Court issued three opinions and no grants. In one opinion, the Court weighed in on the issue of whether a claim for breach of an implied warranty for repair work falls exclusively under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
In Nghiem v. Sajib, et al., a passenger sued the employer of the pilot of a small plane that experienced engine failure leading to a crash-landing. The suit was brought within the 2-year statute of limitations period; however, more than 2 years after the accident, another passenger attempted to intervene as a plaintiff in the suit. The second passenger, Ngheim, alleges negligence claims and a claim for breach of the implied warranty of good and workmanlike repairs. Finding that both the negligence claims and the implied warranty claims were governed by 2-year statute of limitations, the trial court struck Ngheim’s pleading as time-barred. On appeal Ngheim conceded that his negligence claims were time-barred but argued that his implied warranty claims fell under the residual statute of limitations (4 years) rather that the DTPA’s 2-year statute of limitations. The court of appeals affirmed.
The Texas Supreme Court granted Ngheim’s petition for review. First, the Court clarified that claims for breach of warranty can be brought under the DTPA but can also be brought under the common law. Second, the Court held that when a breach of warranty is asserted as a common-law action, the claim is not governed by the DTPA’s 2-year statute of limitations. Third, the Court noted that Ngheim’s claims for breach of implied warranty were brought under the common law, rather than the DTPA. For these reasons, the Court determined that the trial court abused its discretion in striking Ngheim’s pleading and reversed and remanded.
Because the only objection to Ngheim’s intervention focused on the applicability of the DTPA’s 2-year statute of limitations, the Court did not reach Ngheim’s contention that the residual statute of limitations applies to his breach of implied warranty claims.