California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1243. Notification/Reasonable Time

If a buyer is required to notify the seller that a product [is not as represented] [does not have the expected quality] [is not suitable] [is in a harmful condition], [he/she/it] must do so within a reasonable time after [he/she/it] discovers or should have discovered this. A reasonable time depends on the circumstances of the case. In determining whether notice was given within a reasonable time, you must apply a more relaxed standard to a retail consumer than you would to a merchant buyer. A buyer notifies a seller by taking such steps as may be reasonably required to inform the seller [regardless of whether the seller actually receives the notice].

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • Commercial Code section 2607(3) provides: “Where a tender has been accepted [t]he buyer must within a reasonable time after he discovers or should have discovered any breach notify the seller of breach or be barred from any remedy.”
  • Commercial Code section 1202(d) defines “notification” as follows: “A person ‘notifies’ or ‘gives’ a notice or notification to another person by taking such steps as may be reasonably required to inform the other person in ordinary course, whether or not the other person actually comes to know of it.”
  • Commercial Code section 1205(a) provides: “Whether a time for taking an action required by this code is reasonable depends on the nature, purpose, and circumstances of the action.”
  • The Uniform Commercial Code comment to section 2-607(4) states: “The time of notification is to be determined by applying commercial standards to a merchant buyer. ‘A reasonable time’ for notification from a retail consumer is to be judged by different standards so that in his case it will be extended, for the rule of requiring notification is designed to defeat commercial bad faith, not to deprive a good faith consumer of his remedy. [ΒΆ] The content of the notification need merely be sufficient to let the seller know that the transaction is still troublesome and must be watched. There is no reason to require that the notification which saves the buyer’s rights under this section must include a clear statement of all the objections that will be relied on by the buyer, as under the section covering statements of defects upon rejection (Section 2-605). Nor is there reason for requiring the notification to be a claim for damages or of any threatened litigation or other resort to a remedy. The notification which saves the buyer’s rights under this Article need only be such as informs the seller that the transaction is claimed to involve a breach, and thus opens the way for normal settlement through negotiation.”
  • A plaintiff is not required to prove that he or she gave notice of a breach of warranty in personal injury and property damage lawsuits against a manufacturer or another supplier with whom the plaintiff has not directly dealt. (Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc. (1963) 59 Cal.2d 57, 61 [27 Cal.Rptr. 697, 377 P.2d 897]; Gherna v. Ford Motor Co. (1966) 246 Cal.App.2d 639, 652—653 [55 Cal.Rptr. 94].)
  • Notice is more likely to be required in disputes between merchants. (See Fieldstone Co. v. Briggs Plumbing Products, Inc. (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 357, 369—370 [62 Cal.Rptr.2d 701].)
  • When required, notice must be pleaded and proved. (Vogel v. Thrifty Drug Co. (1954) 43 Cal.2d 184, 188 [272 P.2d 1].)
  • The purpose of the demand for notice is to protect the seller from stale claims (Whitfield v. Jessup (1948) 31 Cal.2d 826, 828 [193 P.2d 1]; Metowski v. Traid Corp. (1972) 28 Cal.App.3d 332, 339 [104 Cal.Rptr. 599]) and to give the defendant an opportunity to repair the defective item, reduce damages, improve products in the future, and negotiate settlements. (Pollard v. Saxe & Yolles Development Co. (1974) 12 Cal.3d 374, 380 [115 Cal.Rptr. 648, 525 P.2d 88].)

Secondary Sources

California Products Liability Actions, Ch. 8, Defenses, § 8.07 (Matthew Bender)

44 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 502, Sales: Warranties, §§ 502.28, 502.100 (Matthew Bender)