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Preemption Does Not Bar State Claim Over Fuel Economy Estimates

2009 | Topics: Product Liability, Warranty

In Paduano v. American Honda Motor Co. Inc., 169 Cal.App.4th 1453, a hybrid car buyer sued the manufacturer for breach of state and federal warranty statutes and alleged misrepresentations under state law, arising from the manufacturer’s statements about the car’s fuel economy.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the manufacturer. The California Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the car manufacturer’s summary judgment motion as to the warranty claims, but reversed summary judgment as to the buyer’s state law causes of action for deceptive advertising and remanded the matter to the trial court for further proceedings.  The appellate court agreed with the trial court’s finding that the federal Environmental Protection Agency mileage estimates for a car do not constitute a warranty.  However, the Court of Appeal disagreed with the defense contention that federal law completely preempted the false advertising claims.  It held that the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which regulates fuel economy estimates and labels, does not preempt every lawsuit that challenges statements an automobile manufacturer makes regarding fuel economy.