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Four Seasons Tree Service and Landscaping, Inc v. Terex Telelect

June 29, 2011

FOUR SEASONS TREE SERVICE AND LANDSCAPING, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
TEREX TELELECT, INC. AND FORESTRY EQUIPMENT OF VA, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are motions to dismiss brought by defendant Terex Telelect, Inc. ("Terex") and defendant Forestry Equipment of VA, Inc ("Forestry"). (Doc. 6, 11, and 14.) Defendants' arguments can be succinctly stated in two steps: (1) under the applicable "economic loss" doctrine, plaintiff Four Seasons can only bring contract claims; and (2) Four Seasons' contract claims are barred under the express terms of the contract and the statute of limitations. The Court agrees, and the motions to dismiss will be granted.

BACKGROUND

This suit stems from Four Seasons's purchase of a boom truck with an attached High Ranger XT Series Boom from Forestry on February 6, 2003. The boom was manufactured by Terex and affixed to the truck by Forestry.

The sales agreement included an "as is" clause which provides as follows: FOR "AS IS" SALE ONLY: I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS VEHICLE IS BEING SOLD "AS IS" WITH ALL FAULTS AND IS NOT COVERED BY ANY DEALER WARRANTY. I UNDERSTAND THAT THE DEALER IS NOT REQUIRED TO MAKE ANY REPAIRS AFTER I BUY THIS VEHICLE. I WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR ANY REPAIRS THIS VEHICLE WILL NEED.

The sales agreement also included a disclaimer which provides as follows: DISCLAIMER NO WARRANTIES ARE GIVEN BEYOND THOSE DESCRIBED HEREIN. THIS WARRANTY IS IN LIEU OF ALL OTHER WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. THE COMPANY SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, ALL OTHER REPRESENTATIONS TO THE USER/PURCHASER, AND ALL OTHER OBLIGATIONS OR LIABILITIES. THE COMPANY FURTHER EXCLUDES LIABILITY FOR INCIDENTAL AND CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, ON THE PART OF THE COMPANY OR SELLER. No person is authorized to give any other warranties or to assume any liabilities on the Company's behalf unless made or assumed in writing by the Company; and no other person is authorized to give any warranties or to assume any liabilities on the seller's behalf unless made or assumed in writing by the seller.

The sales agreement further included an integration clause which states: THE FRONT AND BACK OF THIS ORDER COMPRISE THE ENTIRE AGREEMENT AFFECTING THIS PURCHASE. By executing this order, Purchaser acknowledges he/she has read and agrees to be bound by all of its terms and had received a fully completed copy. Purchaser certifies that he/she is 18 years of age or older.

The boom truck was used by Four Seasons to trim high trees and for other business-related services. On July 2, 2009, the gusset plate connecting the boom to the truck failed while the truck was being used to trim trees in Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania. Fortunately, a protruding tree prevented the boom and basket from crashing to the ground and injuring Four Seasons' employee.

Four Seasons filed its initial complaint on April 15, 2011 and an amended complaint on May 5, 2011. Its amended complaint alleged claims for: negligence (count I); breach of contract (count II); breach of express warranty (count III); breach of implied warranties (count IV); and product liability (count IV). Four Seasons further claimed that it has suffered three-hundred and thirty thousand dollars ($330,00.00) in economic loss, as well as "other damages." Terex and Forestry then filed motions to dismiss or to provide a more definite statement. The motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for review.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), meaning enough factual allegations "'to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of'" each necessary element, Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring a complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only "'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant [with] the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232; see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint's "'bald assertions'" or "'legal conclusions,'" Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997)). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining whether a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of her claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

The motions to dismiss will be granted because Four Seasons cannot bring tort claims under the "economic loss" doctrine and its breach of contract and breach of warranty claims are barred by the ...


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