SC Utpa and Breach of Warranty Jury Verdict $757,000 Jury Verdict

Commercial Litigation, Verdicts and Settlements

On March 1, 2013, Bland Richter obtained a $757,000 jury verdict from a Dorchester County South Carolina jury on behalf of its commercial plumbing client, Amo, LLC vs. Eccotemp Systems, LLC. Eccotemp is a manufacturer of energy efficient tankless hot water heaters. Amo purchased 75 tankless hot water heaters from Eccotemp in 2008 and 2009 and alleged that an epidemic failure of over 50 of the units installed in homes in Richland and Lexington County occurred in the winters of 2008 and 2009 causing water pipes to burst and related property damage. The jury returned a verdict in favor of AMO on the SC UTPA claim in the amount of $158,000 and pursuant to S.C. Ann. § 39-5-140 held that Eccotemp’s violation of the act was willful and trebled the damages for a final verdict on that claim of $474,000.00. In addition, the jury rendered verdicts in the amount of $158,000 on Plaintiff’s Breach of Contract claim and $125,000.00 for Plaintiff’s Breach of Warranty claims for breach of an express warranty, implied warranty, and breach of the implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. Pursuant to the verdict under SC UTPA for willful violation of the Act, the Court must award attorneys fees and costs to AMO and Bland Richter associated with pursuing and being successful on that claim. A hearing to award AMO’s attorneys fees and costs will be scheduled within in the near future. This verdict is believed to be one of the largest SC UTPA jury verdicts in South Carolina in the last two years and certainly one of the rare SC UTPA verdicts where the jury found violations were willful and trebled the damages. Defendants post-trial motions were denied. (Winter 2013)