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H Contractors, LLC v. E.J.H. Construction, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

February 16, 2017

H CONTRACTORS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
E.J.H. CONSTRUCTION, INC., Defendant. E.J.H. CONSTRUCTION, INC., Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
Treepoint, LLC d/b/a/ D HOSPITALITY, Third-Party Defendant.

         ECF No. 26

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LISA PUPO LENIHAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is Third-Party Defendant Treepoint, LLC d/b/a D Hospitality's ("D Hospitality") Motion to Dismiss the Third-Party Complaint filed by Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff, E.J.H. Construction, Inc. ("EJH"). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 26)[1] will be denied.

         RELEVANT FACTS AND ALLEGATIONS

         The original Plaintiff, H Contractors, LLC ("H Contractors"), initiated the above-captioned case against EJH for breach of contract on March 29, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) H Contractors filed an Amended Complaint on April 1, 2016. (ECF No. 4.) H Contractors alleges that it contracted with EJH to perform various construction services on three (3) separate Park Inn by Radisson hotels located in Uniontown, Clarion and Beaver Falls. H Contractors alleges that EJH was the general contractor and that it was a subcontractor. H Contractors alleges that it was not paid for its work. (ECF No. 4 ¶¶ 1, 7, 11, 45.)

         After filing its Answer on May 31, 2016, EJH filed its Third-Party Complaint against D Hospitality on June 14, 2016. (ECF No. 19.) Therein, EJH alleges that D Hospitality was the general contractor on renovation work at four (4) Park Inn by Radisson hotels located in Beaver Falls, Uniontown, Indiana, and Clarion ("the Projects"). (ECF No. 19 ¶¶ 7-8.) EJH further alleges that D Hospitality hired EJH as a subcontractor to immediately begin work on the Projects. (ECF No. 19 ¶¶ 9, 12-14.) D Hospitality, according to Third-Party Plaintiff EJH, represented that EJH would be paid according to the terms of an unsigned contract totaling $2, 989, 388. (ECF No. 19 ¶ 10.) Based on that promise, EJH mobilized within two (2) days and began renovations to the Indiana hotel. (ECF No. 19 ¶ 14.) EJH alleges that D Hospitality has failed to pay it for any of the work performed by EJH and that D Hospitality disputes its own contractual terms set out in the unsigned contract it provided to EJH before construction began. (ECF No. 19 ¶¶ 20-24.) EJH further alleges that as a result of D Hospitality's actions, EJH could not pay EJH's subcontractor, H Contractors. (ECF No. 19 ¶¶ 51-52.)

         In its Third-Party Complaint, EJH alleges claims for breach of implied-in-fact contract; unjust enrichment; promissory estoppel; fraudulent inducement; contribution/indemnification; and for violation of the Pennsylvania Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act. (ECF No. 19 ¶¶ 27-60.)

         On December 18, 2016, H Contractors and EJH filed a Joint Stipulation for Dismissal wherein the parties stipulated to the dismissal with prejudice of all claims asserted or that could have been asserted by and between H Contractors and EJH consistent with the terms of their Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release. (ECF No. 45.) This Court entered an order granting the Joint Stipulation of Dismissal on December 28, 2016. (ECF No. 46.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit aptly summarized the standard to be applied in deciding motions to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6):

Under the "notice pleading" standard embodied in Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must come forward with "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." As explicated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), a claimant must state a "plausible" claim for relief, and "[a] claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Although "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), a plaintiff "need only put forth allegations that raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Fowler [v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d [203, ][] 213 [(3d Cir. 2009)] (quotation marks and citations omitted); see also Covington v. Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 117-18 (3d Cir.2013).

Thompson v. Real Estate Mortg. Network, 748 F.3d 142, 147 (3d Cir. 2014).

         In addition to the complaint, courts may consider matters of public record and other matters of which a court may take judicial notice, court orders, and exhibits attached to the complaint when adjudicating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994) (citing 5A Wright and Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d, § 1357; Chester County Intermediate Unit v. Pennsylvania Blue Shield, 896 F.2d 808, 812 (3d Cir. 1990)). That is, a "'document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint" may be considered "without converting the motion [to dismiss] into one for summary judgment." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting Shaw v. Digital Equip. Corp., 82 F.3d 1194, 1220 (1st Cir. 1996) (emphasis added by Burlington Court)). A court may also consider indisputably authentic documents. Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004); Pension Ben. Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).

         Here, in support of its Motion to Dismiss Third-Party Complaint, D Hospitality argues the following: 1) the Third-Party Complaint fails to state legally sufficient claims for contribution and indemnification under Pennsylvania law and therefore, is not proper under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14; 2) Third-Party Plaintiff EJH fails to state a legally sufficient claim for fraudulent inducement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9, and because this claim is barred by the economic loss and/ or gist of the action doctrines. (ECF No. 27 at 4-8.) Third-Party Plaintiff EJH responds that 1) impleader is proper pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14 because the unsigned contract in issue contains an indemnification clause; 2) the Third-Party Complaint survives the Rule 9(b) pleading standard; and 3) the fraudulent inducement claim is not barred by the gist of the action and/or the economic loss doctrines.

         ANALYSIS

         Impleader

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14 sets out the requirements that must be met in order to implead a third-party defendant. Rule 14 provides in relevant part that "[a] defending party may, as a third-party plaintiff, serve a summons and complaint on a nonparty who is or may be liable to it for all or part of the claim against it." Fed.R.Civ.P. 14(a)(1). Impleader "must involve an attempt to pass on to the third party all or part of the liability asserted against the defendant. Thus, it must be an assertion of the third-party defendant's derivative liability to the third-party plaintiff." 3 James Wm. Moore et al, Moore's Federal Practice ยง 14.04[3][a] (3d ...


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