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Goldstein v. Bison Bede Limited

August 27, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: DuBOIS, J.


I. Background*fn1

The instant suit arises out of the malfunctioning of a "curved rail stair lift" that plaintiffs, Larry Goldstein and Melissa Goldstein, purchased from defendant United Lift Service Company, Inc. ("United Lift") and that was manufactured by defendant Bison Bede Limited ("Bison"). Plaintiffs allege that defendant Jason Warner ("Warner") is a service manager for Bison HomeCare and "a Bison Bede Limited employee . . . ." (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 16.) In the Complaint, plaintiffs assert the following claims against defendants: an unspecified claim for either breach of contract or breach of express warranty (Count I); false imprisonment (Count II); breach of the Implied Warranty of Merchantability and breach of the Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose (Count III); and violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law ("UTPCPL") (Count IV).

Plaintiffs purchased a Bison "Contour Elite" curved rail stair lift (the "chair lift") from defendant United Lift on December 27, 2003. (Id. ¶ 6.) Thereafter, defendant United Lift installed the chair lift. (Id. ¶ 7.) On February 2, 2004, plaintiffs entered into a service contract with defendant United Lift, and on December 6, 2006, plaintiffs "entered into a yearly maintenance agreement for the period of December 2006 through December 2007." (Id. ¶¶ 9--10.) The chair lift began malfunctioning on September 19, 2007. (Id. ¶ 11.) Despite an attempted repair by defendant United Lift on September 22, 2007, the chair lift continued to malfunction and was inoperable after September 28, 2007. (Id. ¶ 12--13.) The chair lift required replacement of "a circuit board." (Id. ¶ 14.)

Plaintiffs allege that they "made various calls" to defendant United Lift. (Id. ¶ 14.) Defendant United Lift stated that the circuit board "had to be ordered from [d]efendant Bison." (Id. ¶ 14.) "[W]hen informed [by defendant United Lift] that no such circuit board could be obtained," plaintiffs attempted to contact defendant Bison directly, and after "failing to obtain parts," plaintiffs "[were] directed to" defendant Warner, who stated that "the necessary parts were not available in the continental United States." (Id. ¶ 15--16.) "Unable to obtain parts for the said repair," plaintiffs replaced the chair lift at a cost of $15,299. (Id. ¶ 17--18.)

Presently before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss of defendants Bison and Warner, the only defendants which have appeared in the case.*fn2 For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the Motion to Dismiss of defendants Bison and Warner with respect to all four counts of the Complaint.

II. Legal Standard

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, in response to a pleading, a defense of "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted" may be raised by motion. In analyzing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court "accept[s] all factual allegations as true, construe[s] the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine[s] whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)).

"To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .'" Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In other words, a complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To satisfy the plausibility standard, a plaintiff's allegations must show that defendant's liability is more than "a sheer possibility." Id. "Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

In Twombly, the Supreme Court utilized a "two-pronged approach" which it later formalized in Iqbal. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. Under this approach, a district court first identifies those factual allegations which constitute nothing more than "legal conclusions" or "naked assertions." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. Such allegations are "not entitled to the assumption of truth" and must be disregarded. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. The court then assesses "the 'nub' of the plaintiff['s] complaint-the well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegation[s] . . . -to determine" whether it states a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 565.

III. Discussion

A. Count I - Unspecified Claim

In their Motion to Dismiss, defendants Bison and Warner correctly point out that in the Complaint, plaintiffs fail to identify the cause of action they assert in Count I. (Defs.' Mot. 3.) Rather, in Count I plaintiffs allege that they were required to seek a replacement chair lift because "the necessary parts [to repair the chair lift] were not available in the continental United States." (Compl. ¶ 16.) Specifically, plaintiffs aver that defendant United Lift referred them to defendant Bison, who then referred them to defendant Warner, all to no avail.

Defendants Bison and Warner argue that in Count I, plaintiffs seek to raise a breach of contract claim against them. (Defs.' Mot. 4.) They ...

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