California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3204. "Substantially Impaired" Explained

In deciding whether a reasonable person would believe that the vehicle's defect[s], if any, substantially impaired the vehicle's use, value, or safety, you may consider, among other factors, the following:

(a) [The nature of the defect[s];]

(b) [The cost and length of time required for repair;]

(c) [Whether past repair attempts have been successful;]

(d) [The degree to which the vehicle could be used while awaiting repair;]

(e) [The availability and cost of comparable transportation during the repairs;] [and]

(f) [Insert other appropriate factor.]

Directions for Use

Some or all of the stated factors may not be necessary in every case. Depending on the facts of the case, other factors may be added as appropriate.

Sources and Authority

"Whether the impairment is substantial is determined by an objective test, based on what a reasonable person would understand to be a defect. This test is applied, however, within the specific circumstances of the buyer." (Lundy v. Ford Motor Co. (2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 472, 478 [104 Cal.Rptr.2d 545], internal citations omitted.)

"The issue of whether the problems constituted substantial impairment is one for the trier of fact." (Schreidel v. American Honda Motor Co. (1995) 34 Cal.App.4th 1242, 1250 [40 Cal.Rptr.2d 576], internal citations omitted.)

"The term ['substantially'] modifies its object, 'impairment.' It injects an element of degree; not every impairment is sufficient to satisfy the statute. The most analogous definition of 'substantially' we have found in a context similar to its usage here is in the Uniform Commercial

Code, section 2-608. Like the clause at issue here, this provision requires a determination of whether a defect 'substantially impairs' the value of goods sold to a buyer. Under it, the trier of fact may consider: 'the nature of the defects; the cost and length of time required for repair; whether past repair attempts have been successful; the degree to which the goods can be used while repairs are attempted; [inconvenience to buyer]; and the availability and cost of alternative goods pending repair. . . .' It may be that this term, like 'reasonable,' is incapable of precise definition. At the least, the requirement is not satisfied by any impairment, however insignificant, that affects use, value, or safety." (Lundy, supra, 87 Cal.App.4th at p. 478, internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

3 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1987) Sales, § 307

8 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 91, Automobiles: Actions Involving Defects and Repairs, §§ 91.12[2], 91.64 (Matthew Bender)

44 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 502, Sales: Warranties, § 502.53 (Matthew Bender)

20 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 206, Sales, Forms 144, 206 (Matthew Bender)

(Revised December 2005)