News & Insights

Building Material Warranties Not Held At Gunpoint In Alabama

The construction of a structure encompasses many different areas that often are not realized until a party is subject to litigation arising from the construction. Litigation can often bring to light certain warranties that attach to building materials or products that make up a newly constructed structure. Common warranties potentially impacting parties to litigation arising out of construction are material and workmanship warranties. An often-forgotten warranty claim that can impact building material providers arises out of the design of a particular material or product.

While not a lawsuit arising from construction of a structure, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama recently released an opinion that is relevant to providers of construction materials. In Harman v. Taurus International Manufacturing, the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama addressed various warranty claims arising from the purchase of a handgun produced by Taurus Manufacturing. 2023 WL 2534743 (M.D. Ala. March 15, 2023). Specifically, a man was injured when a handgun he purchased allegedly blew apart and the subsequent lawsuit included claims for breach of an express warranty. The warranty at issue was an express warranty as to the product’s materials and workmanship.

The portion of the opinion of note for parties that supply construction materials and products involves the Court’s opinion regarding express warranties and if such warranties include a warranty as to the design of the product in question. The Court stated, “[a]n express warranty that exclusively warrants against flaws in ‘material and workmanship’ covers only manufacturing defects, not design defects.” Id. (quoting Tull Bros., Inc. v. Peerless Prods., Inc., 953 F. Supp. 2d 1245, 1257 (S. D. Ala. June 18, 2023)). While not a case directly involving the construction of a structure, the Court’s rationale is equally applicable to warranties provided in connection to building materials or products. 

The Harman v. Taurus International case is a prime example of the importance of knowing what warranties apply to a provided building material or product. In the construction industry context, building material suppliers should be sure to determine what warranties apply to the products they offer to customers. Specifically, as to products they did not design. Unless they specifically designed a product, building material suppliers and manufacturers in Alabama should be cautious to not include warranties for their products that exceed what is normally encompassed by a “materials and workmanship” warranty provided in connection with a building material or product.