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Adams Pointe I, L.P. v. Tru-Flex Metal Hose Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.

February 28, 2018

ADAMS POINTE I, L.P., ADAMS POINTE II, L.P., BAYBERRY NORTH ASSOCIATES L.P., AND; BETTERS REAL ESTATE HOLDINGS, L.P., INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED; JBCO, ADAMS POINTE III, L.P., ADAMS POINTE NORTH CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, L.P., ADAMS POINTE MASTER ASSOCIATION, L.P., COULTER & GRAHAM, LLP., MICHAEL AND KATHLEEN BICHLER, JOHN EVANS, Plaintiffs,
v.
TRU-FLEX METAL HOSE CORP., TRU-FLEX, LLC, AND; AND PRO-FLEX LLC, Defendants, et al.,

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Cynthia Reed Eddy, United States Magistrate Judge.

         RECOMMENDATION

         Presently before the court for disposition is a motion to dismiss Third-Party Plaintiffs Tru-Flex Metal Hose Corp., Tru-Flex LLC (collectively “Tru-Flex”) and Pro-Flex LLC's (“Pro-Flex”) Third-Party Complaints for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Original Class Action Complaint submitted by Third-Party Defendant Ward Manufacturing (“Ward”). [ECF No. 168].

         The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition. See [ECF Nos. 168, 169, 191, 192, 193, 194, 203]. For the reasons that follow, it is respectfully recommended that Ward's motion to dismiss be granted in part and dismissed without prejudice in part. Specifically, it is respectfully recommended that Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex's claim against Ward for indemnification be dismissed with prejudice and Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex's claim for contribution against Ward be dismissed without prejudice. It is further respectfully recommended that Ward's motion to dismiss the Named Plaintiff's Original Complaint be dismissed without prejudice as moot.

         REPORT

         I. Background

         The factual background of this case and the operable Third-Party Complaints was set forth at length in this court's prior Report and Recommendation. [ECF No. 259]. Because the court writes primarily for the parties, the court incorporates the factual background of that Report as if fully set forth herein and will only recount the allegations necessary to support this Report and Recommendation.

         Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex assert a claim for indemnification and/or contribution against Third-Party Defendant Ward. Ward is in the business of manufacturing, designing, distributing and/or selling CSST in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Third-Party Complaint [ECF No. 90] at ¶ 51.[1] Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex allege that they visually inspected properties at Adams Pointe and identified the presence of a CSST product manufactured by Ward (hereinafter “WardFlex CSST”) in certain residences at Adams Pointe. Id. at ¶ 53. Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex allege that to the extent they are found liable to the Adams Pointe Plaintiffs for the presence of CSST at Adams Pointe, Ward is solely liable to the Adams Pointe Plaintiffs, jointly or severally liable with Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex, or is liable to Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex for contribution and/or indemnity. Id. at ¶ 54. Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex allege that the duty to indemnify is “implied in the law to prevent an unjust result[, ]” and that Ward's negligence was the proximate cause of any damages sustained by the Adams Pointe Plaintiffs. Id. at ¶¶ 55-56. Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex allege that to the extent that the Adams Pointe Plaintiffs have alleged to have “incurred damages in the form of property loss, structural damage, expended costs, loss of value in the marketing and sale of the residences, and increased insurability costs[, ]” those damages were caused by Ward and not Pro-Flex and Tru-Flex. Id. at ¶¶ 52-56.

         Ward moves to dismiss the Third-Party Complaints and argues that the Third-Party Complaints are improper under Rule 14(a) and the Third-Party Complaints otherwise fail to state a claim against Ward for indemnity and/or contribution under Pennsylvania law. Further, Ward moves to dismiss the Named Plaintiffs' Original Complaint and argues that the Named Plaintiffs lack standing to recover damages beyond those incurred as a result of the purported fires at the Adams Pointe properties and the Named Plaintiffs' claims for damages in connection with the properties at Adams Pointe not directly harmed by the fire incident are barred by the economic loss doctrine.

         II. Discussion

         a. Motion to Dismiss the Third-Party Complaints

         i. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14(a)

         Rule 14(a) allows a defendant to file a third-party complaint against a non-party “who is or may be liable to him for all or part of the plaintiff's claim against him.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 14(a). The purpose of Rule 14(a) is “to permit additional parties whose rights may be affected by the decision in the original action to be joined and brought in so as to expedite the final determination of the rights and liabilities of all of the interested persons in one suit.” Glens Falls Indem. Co. v. Atl. Bldg. Corp., 199 F.2d 60, 63 (4th Cir.1952).

         “A third-party complaint must attempt ‘to transfer to the third-party defendant the liability asserted against him by the original plaintiff.'” Monarch Life Ins. Co. v. Donahue, 702 F.Supp. 1195, 1197 (E.D. Pa. 1989) (citing Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Central Ry. Serv., Inc., 636 F.Supp. 782, 786 (E.D.Pa.1986)). A defendant/third-party plaintiff may use Rule 14(a) to implead a third-party defendant “only if the proposed third-party defendant may be liable to the third-party plaintiff derivatively or secondarily.” Jabara v. Lang, 1:12-CV-1833, 2014 WL 47767, at *2 (M.D.Pa. Jan. 6, 2014) (citing Naramanian v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., 07-CV-4757, ...


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