Jones v. Centex Homes, 189 Ohio App. 3d 668 (2010).
The Joneses entered into a sales agreement with Centex Homes for the construction of a new home. The agreement included a Limited Home Warranty provision covering defects in materials and workmanship. The provision also contained a clause purporting to waive any and all express or implied warranties of habitability or fitness.
Under the law in most states, a new homebuilder impliedly warrants to a purchaser that the home is structurally safe and free from defects. In some states, it is incredibly difficult if not impossible to disclaim this warranty. However, both the trial court and court of appeals in this Ohio case found that the buyers contractually waived their claims by virtue of the Limited Home Warranty.
The court of appeals seemed to place great emphasis on the fact that the Joneses were in their 30s and 40s and made the conscious decision to enter into this agreement without the aid of an attorney. The court relied on basic contract principles of freedom of contract and the presumption that a party reads what he signs. The court also noted that although the Limited Home Warranty provision was not emphasized in the contract, it was also not hidden or in small font. Because the language was clear and unambiguous and because the parties voluntarily entered into the agreement, the court upheld the waiver as the homebuyers’ exclusive remedy.
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