United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
WILLIAM HARBISON, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated, Plaintiff,
LOUISIANA-PACIFIC CORPORATION, Defendant.
ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.
This is a putative class action lawsuit wherein the purported class has asserted a breach of express warranty claim. Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint and Brief in Support of same. Doc. nos. 41-42. Plaintiff timely filed a Response in Opposition to the Motion (doc. no. 45) and Defendant filed a Reply Brief. Doc. no. 48. The matter is now ripe for adjudication.
I. Standard of Review
Defendant filed its Motion to Dismiss predicated upon Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Federal Courts require notice pleading, as opposed to the heightened standard of fact pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds on which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
Building upon the landmark United States Supreme Court decisions in Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit explained that a District Court must undertake the following three steps to determine the sufficiency of a complaint:
First, the court must take note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim. Second, the court should identify allegations that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Finally, where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.
Connelly v. Steel Valley Sch. Dist. , 706 F.3d 209, 212 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
The third step of the sequential evaluation requires this Court to consider the specific nature of the claims presented and to determine whether the facts pled to substantiate the claims are sufficient to show a "plausible claim for relief." Covington v. Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials , 710 F.3d 114, 118 (3d Cir. 2013). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a Complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 664.
This Court may not dismiss a complaint merely because it appears unlikely or improbable that Plaintiff can prove the facts alleged or will ultimately prevail on the merits. Twombly , 550 U.S. at 563 n.8. Instead, this Court must ask whether the facts alleged raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary elements. Id. at 556. Generally speaking, a complaint that provides adequate facts to establish "how, when, and where" will survive a Motion to Dismiss. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside , 578 F.3d 203, 212 (3d Cir. 2009).
In short, a Motion to Dismiss should not be granted if a party alleges facts, which could, if established at trial, entitle him/her to relief. Twombly , 550 U.S. at 563 n.8.
II. Factual Background
As noted above, only Plaintiff's factual averments are to be taken as true solely for the purposes of deciding these two Motions to Dismiss. The relevant factual allegations are set forth herein and have been accepted as true by this Court for the purpose of deciding the Motion presently before the Court.
In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that ABTco was a subsidiary for Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (Defendant), but now is just a registered trademark and no longer an active corporation. Doc. no. 25, ¶ 9. ABTco designed, tested, manufactured, marketed, advertised, warranted, and/or sold TrimBoard directly or indirectly through dealers and retail outlets. Id . ¶ 10. Defendant is both a manufacturer and seller of TrimBoard which was sold to Plaintiff as "Choicetrim." Id . ¶ 11.
Defendant, through a distributor, warranted and sold TrimBoard to Plaintiff through Plaintiff's builders. Id . ¶ 12. Plaintiff alleges that his builder was his agent. Id . Plaintiff also alleges that his builder/agent was aware of the express warranty provided by Defendant when he purchased the TrimBoard from Defendant. Id . Plaintiff alleges that his builder/agent was in possession of the express warranty and that the builder/agent helped Plaintiff prepare his warranty claim against Defendant. Id.
Plaintiff attached a copy of the express warranty at issue to the Amended Complaint and made it a part of his Amended Complaint. Id . ¶ 14. That express warranty states in pertinent part:
TEN YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY - SUBSTRATE
ABT Building Products Corporation warrants its TrimBoard... for a period of ten years from the date of installation under normal conditions of use and exposure, providing the trim is properly stored, installed, maintained, and protected as specified in ABTco's Application Instructions. Should the product fail within ten years of the date of installation, ABTco, Inc.... will replace the defective trim on the following basis: ABTco will compensate the owner for the repair and replacement of the affected trim for more than twice the original purchase price of the affected trim if failure occurs within ten years.
Doc. no. 1-2, p. 1.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss asserts that Plaintiff did not and cannot assert facts necessary to support a claim for breach of express warranty because as a third party to the warranty: "(1) Plaintiff impermissibly seeks relief beyond the specific terms of the warranty; and (2) he did not bargain for [the] express warranty, know the terms[, ] or even know identity of the entity issuing the express warranty." Doc. no. 42, p. 1. The Court will address each of these predicate bases, but in reverse order.
A. Plaintiff did not Bargain for the Warranty or Know Its Terms
Express warranties are defined by UCC 2-313 as follows:
(1) Express warranties by the seller are created 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.
(c) Any sample or model which is made part of the basis of the bargain creates an express warranty that the whole of the goods shall conform to the sample or model.
(2) It is not necessary to the creation of an express warranty that the seller use formal words such as "warrant" or "guarantee" or that he have a specific intention to make a warranty, but an affirmation merely of the value of the goods or a statement purporting to be merely the ...