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Penns Crossing Builders, et al v. Jeld-Wen

September 30, 2011

PENNS CROSSING BUILDERS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS
v.
JELD-WEN, INC., DEFENDANT



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

MEMORANDUM

This is a proposed class*fn1 action brought by the plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and other entities that purchased and installed the defendant‟s Low-E windows,*fn2 which the plaintiffs allege contain an inherent defect. The plaintiffs allege claims for breach of express warranty, common law fraud by omission, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and in the alternative, unjust enrichment. They also seek a declaration that the defendant‟s warranties are void, invalid, and not enforceable. The defendant has filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or in the alternative, to strike various allegations in the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(f). For the following reasons, I will grant the motion to dismiss in part, and deny it in part.

I. BACKGROUND*fn3

Beginning in approximately 2005, the plaintiffs built seventeen new homes in a residential development in Lititz, Pennsylvania, known as Penns Crossing. These homes contained the Low-E windows manufactured and sold by the defendant. See Compl. ¶¶ 2, 15.

In September 2009, the plaintiffs discovered that these windows were reflecting and intensifying sunlight, and melting the vinyl siding of surrounding homes in the Penns Crossing development. Id. ¶ 19. The glass reflected light in an amplified manner which caused damage to objects in the light‟s path. Id. ¶¶ 7, 10. Upon discovering this damage, the plaintiffs contacted the defendant and requested repair or replacement of the windows at the defendant‟s expense. Id. In January 2010, the defendant refused the plaintiffs‟ request. The plaintiffs then voluntarily expended their own resources to repair or replace the windows. Id. The plaintiffs did not know at the time they purchased and installed the windows that the windows contained an inherent defect in that the glass is designed and manufactured with a concave shape that results in reflective distortion. Id.

¶ 16. The complaint explains that reflective distortion does not disperse its reflected light in a normal pattern but actually focuses and amplifies its reflective light in a point, which results in damage to objects in the reflected light‟s path. Id. ¶ 1.

The plaintiffs allege in the complaint that the defendant knew, or should have known but for its reckless indifference, that its windows had an inherent substantial defect or condition, yet failed to disclose that defect or condition to the plaintiffs. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. Furthermore, the plaintiffs assert that the defendant knew, or should have known, that it was receiving and would continue to receive reports of problems relating to reflective distortion and/or excessive radiant heat resulting from the windows. Id. ¶ 10. The plaintiffs also allege that the defendant knew that if it had properly disclosed the defect in its windows, the sale of its windows would have dropped significantly, and the defendant would have lost market share. Id. ¶ 11. Despite such knowledge, the plaintiffs insist, the defendant did not disclose to prospective purchasers any of this material information. Id. ¶ 13.

Finally, the plaintiffs allege that the defendant knew that to avoid further harm caused by the windows, it had to redesign the windows, recall all of the windows, or provide corrective notice prior to sale of the windows. Id. ¶ 14. Any corrective notice, the plaintiffs insist, would have had to inform prospective purchasers that when using the windows, restrictive and costly construction alternatives had to be implemented such as installing awnings, use of landscaping to block the window and its reflection, placement of exterior screens on the windows to block the window and its reflection, or installation of capillaries in the windows that would have reduced the useful life of the windows and otherwise violated other terms and conditions of the defendant‟s warranty program. Id. ¶ 14.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs claim that the defendant‟s acts and omissions in connection with its design and sale of these windows constitute common law fraud, result in the breach of express and implied warranties, unjustly enrich the defendant, and warrant declaratory relief.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure examines the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The factual allegations must be sufficient to make the claim for relief more than just speculative. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In determining whether to grant a motion to dismiss, a federal court must construe the complaint liberally, accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all plausible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Id.; see also D.P. Enters. v. Bucks County Cmty. Coll., 725 F.2d 943, 944 (3d Cir. 1984).

It remains true that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a plaintiff to plead in detail all of the facts upon which he bases his claim. Rather, the Rules require "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). In recent rulings, however, the Supreme Court has rejected language in Conley stating that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 561.

Rather, a "complaint must allege facts suggestive of [the proscribed] conduct," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 564, and it must contain enough factual matters to suggest the required elements of the claim or to "raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" those elements. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Neither "bald assertions" nor "vague and conclusory allegations" are accepted as true. See Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

In assessing the merits of a motion to dismiss, courts must be careful to recognize that, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 1950 (emphasis added). In recognition of these principles, courts must first identify those allegations in a complaint that are mere conclusions and are therefore not entitled to the assumption of truth, and next, consider whether the complaint‟s factual allegations, which are entitled to a presumption of truth, plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950 (emphasis added).

III. ...


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