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CHATLOS SYS. v. NCR

October 22, 1979

CHATLOS SYSTEMS, INC., a New Jersey corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL CASH REGISTER CORPORATION, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WHIPPLE

This case was tried before the Court sitting without a jury during May and June of 1979. The action arises out of the sale, through a leasing arrangement, of computer hardware and software. The plaintiff alleges breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranties, fraudulent misrepresentation, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. *fn1" The parties have submitted extensive trial memoranda and proposed findings and conclusions. After careful consideration of all testimony, exhibits admitted into evidence, oral argument, and trial memoranda, the Court hereby adopts the following findings of fact and conclusions of fact pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 52.

The plaintiff, Chatlos Systems, Inc. (hereinafter CSI) is a New Jersey corporation engaged in the design and manufacture of cable pressurization equipment for the telecommunications industry. Edward Chatlos is the president of CSI. The defendant, NCR Corporation (hereinafter NCR) previously known as National Cash Register Corporation, is a Maryland corporation having its principal place of business in Dayton, Ohio. NCR designs, manufactures and sells computer systems, programming and services.

 The action was originally filed in the New Jersey Superior Court. It was removed on motion of the defendant citing diversity of citizenship and an amount in controversy exceeding $ 10,000.00.

 In the spring of 1974 the plaintiff became interested in purchasing a computer system in order to modernize the control of data which had become increasingly difficult since the incorporation of CSI in 1967. Mr. Chatlos made inquiries of several computer companies and was visited by Sam Long, a NCR salesman. After discussions wherein NCR was apprised of CSI's detailed business history and operations, Mr. Long recommended that CSI acquire a computer known as the NCR 399 Magnetic Ledger Card System (330 MAG).

 It was represented that the 399 MAG would provide six functions for CSI through the use of computer programs. The six functions were Accounts Receivable, Payroll, Order Entry, Inventory Deletion, State Income Tax, and Cash Receipts.

 On July 11, 1974 Mr. Chatlos in his capacity as chief executive of CSI signed a System Services Agreement for the sale of a 399 MAG. Shortly thereafter he had discussions with a representative of Burroughs Corporation, a major competitor of NCR. In these discussions Mr. Chatlos learned of a more advanced method of storing data than magnetic ledger cards which was known as a disc system. When he brought this information to the attention of Mr. Long, he was told that NCR also sold a disc system which could be utilized with the basic 399 unit. The computer was called the 399/656 Disc System.

 It was represented by NCR that the 399/656 Disc would perform the same functions as the 399 MAG. It was further represented that the more advanced system was a good investment for CSI's present and future needs, that it would solve inventory problems, would result in direct savings of labor costs, would be programmed by capable NCR personnel, and would be "up and running" *fn2" within six months.

 In reliance upon these representations CSI entered into the transaction. On July 24, 1974 CSI entered into a System Services Agreement with NCR as part of the transaction. CSI paid $ 5,621.22 under this agreement. (P. 30d, 30e, D-81, D-82). Because both NCR and an independent leasing company disapproved CSI's credit, on February 4, 1975 CSI entered into a leasing arrangement with the Midlantic National Bank whereby CSI agreed to pay $ 70,162.09 in sixty-six equal payments. (P. Ex. 21). This is a common practice in the trade; the computer company sells the system to a bank who in turn leases it to the "purchaser."

 On December 11, 1974 the computer hardware was delivered to CSI. At this point Mr. Chatlos, on behalf of CSI, understood that it would take slightly longer, that is three months from the date of delivery, to have the system "up and running." Based upon the representations of NCR, CSI expected the machine to be fully operational by March 1975.

 After the hardware was delivered, Frank Hicks, an experienced NCR programmer began learning the CSI payroll program. Though experienced in the 399 unit, Mr. Hicks had not attended the Disc school. He arrived at CSI in January 1975 and attempted to program and install the 399/656 Disc until February 1976. The payroll program became operational in March 1975, yet the State Income Tax programs were not successfully installed until September 1, 1976.

 After programming the payroll function Mr. Hicks attempted to install the inventory deletion and order entry programs which involved the use of a procedure known as multiple records per sector. Placing multiple records in a sector means that several pieces of data or information are stored in one sector or section of the disc. Mr. Hicks had problems with the process in that he could not delete one piece of information within the same sector. CSI's business involves the assembly of technical equipment using many component parts. If the information contained in a sector was the existence of several specific parts in inventory, when one part was deleted (because it had been used in the assembly of equipment), the existence of the other parts was also deleted. Thus the functions of inventory deletion and order entry were inoperative.

 On January 1, 1976 Richard Moody, Branch Service Manager of NCR's Newark District Office became responsible for the CSI installation. In February 1976 Mr. Moody assigned Pasquale Turi and Edward Tuosto to replace Mr. Hicks at the CSI site. Assurances were given to CSI that the computer would soon be demonstrated. On March 9 and 10, 1976 several NCR system analysts attempted to demonstrate the order entry and accounts receivable functions. This demonstration revealed significant problems with both functions.

 On June 7, 1976 CSI asked that the lease be cancelled and the computer removed. NCR asked for additional time to make the 399/656 Disc fully operational and CSI agreed.

 In July and August 1976 several meetings took place between NCR and CSI. Two other NCR analysts, Doug Russo and Bob Zebroski began another attempt to program the computer. On August 31, 1976 CSI experienced problems with the payroll function, the only job the computer had been performing. On that same day Mr. Tuosto installed the State Income Tax programs and on September 1, 1976 the problems with it were corrected.

 On September 2, 1976 Mr. Moody arrived at CSI and announced that he was ready to install the order entry program. CSI refused. On September 3, 1976 Mr. Chatlos sent a letter to NCR describing the events of that summer and asked to cancel the lease and have the computer removed from the CSI premises. NCR refused stating that it had no ownership rights in the 399/656 Disc because it had been paid by the Midlantic Bank in August 1975.

 Though Mr. Hicks worked on the programming problems for over one year, and other NCR personnel attempted to correct them, the 399/656 Disc only performed the payroll function and never performed the other four functions. Moreover, Mr. Chatlos and the other personnel of CSI gave full cooperation to NCR up until September 2, 1976.

 This transaction was for the "sale of goods" notwithstanding the incidental service aspects and the lease arrangement; therefore Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, as adopted by the State of New Jersey, is the applicable law. N.J.S.A. 12A:2-101 Et. seq., see, Atlas Industries, Inc. v. National Cash Register, 216 Kan. 213, 531 P.2d 41 (1975); Acme Pump Company, Inc. v. National Cash Register, 32 Conn.Sup. 69, 337 A.2d 672 (C.C.P. 1974). Because of this application and the following conclusions it is unnecessary to consider the common law breach of contract claim.

 WARRANTY

 Under N.J.S.A. 12A:2-313(1)(a) and (b) express warranties are created by a seller as follows:

 
(a) Any affirmation of fact or promise made by the seller to the buyer which relates to the goods and becomes part of the basis of the bargain creates an express warranty that the goods shall conform to the affirmation or promise.
 
(b) Any description of the goods which is made part of the basis of the bargain creates an express warranty that the goods shall conform to the description.

 Express written warranties were made by NCR in the Equipment Order and Sales Contract where it specifically stated that NCR warranted the described equipment for "12 months after delivery against defects in material, workmanship and operational failure from ordinary use." Furthermore the July 24, 1976 System Services Agreement specifically states, "NCR warrants that the services will be performed in a skillful and workmanlike manner." Though for services, this was part and parcel of the entire transaction for a sale of goods.

 Together with the written warranties, Mr. Long, the NCR salesman, made verbal warranties as outlined in the facts. All of these warranties were memorialized in the Purchase Order prepared by the Midlantic National Bank where it is written at paragraph 6:

 
Since the above goods (the 399/656 Disc) are purchased by us expressly for the use of the lessee, (CSI) you (NCR) further warrant that the goods are in good working order, fit for the use for which the Lessee intends them, fulfill all representations made by you to Lessee, . . .

 (Plaintiff's ex. 36).

 Since the written and verbal representations were obviously a basis of the bargain, it is clear that NCR created express warranties.

 Under N.J.S.A. 12A:2-315 an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose is created:

 
Where a seller at the time of contracting has reason to know of any particular purpose for which the goods are required and has reason to know that the buyer is relying on the seller's skill or judgment to select or furnish suitable goods, there is . . . ...

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