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Kaiser Martin Group, Inc. v. Haas Door Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 2, 2019

KAISER MARTIN GROUP, INC., formerly known as KAISER CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., Plaintiff,
v.
HAAS DOOR CO., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          GERALD J. PAPPERT, J.

         Kaiser Martin Group sued Haas Door Company for damages arising from the sale of twenty-four retractable garage doors manufactured by Haas. Kaiser, a construction company, was engaged by Brad and Andrea Heffler to construct a horse-riding arena on their property in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Kaiser alleges that Haas's doors, which were installed along the walls of the arena, leaked and caused damage to the structure.

         On February 15, 2019, Kaiser filed this lawsuit in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, asserting six claims “directly and as an assignee of Heffler v. Haas” for breach of manufacturer's warranties (Count I), breach of implied warranties (Count II), breach of contract (Count III), negligence (Count IV), strict liability (Count V)[1] and violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (Count VI). (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Kaiser served the Complaint on March 27 and Haas timely removed the case to this Court on April 25.[2] (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.) Haas now moves to dismiss all claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted with leave to amend some of the claims.

         I

         Brad and Angela Heffler hired Kaiser to construct a horse-riding arena on their property. (Compl. ¶ 5.) Kaiser entered a subcontract with Shank Door Company, an authorized distributor of doors manufactured by Haas. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Shank installed twenty-four retractable doors with glass window panes (“commercial model # CA-110”) along the walls of the arena. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-7, 9.)

         The Haas doors came with a written manufacturer's warranty. (Id. at ¶ 10.)[3] The warranty provides: “Haas Door Company warrants its commercial models CA-110 and CA-220 series aluminum garage door sections to be free from defects in workmanship and material for a period of one (1) year from date of installation.” (Compl. Ex. A.) It continues, in relevant part:

The Warranty excludes: (1) Sections and/or component parts which have been damaged due to misuse; (2) Sections and/or components which have been improperly installed, maintained or operated; (3) Sections and/or components that have been damaged due to accident; (4) Sections and/or components that have been damaged due to exposure to corrosive fumes/chemicals, alkaline cleaning agents, condensation or fire; (5) Performance of coatings used to finish the garage door sections; (6) Repair and/or replacement labor charges, including travel cost; (7) Damages resulting from causes beyond the manufacturers [sic] control.
In the event any defect is claimed during the warranty periods, a claim in writing must be submitted to Haas Door Company, directed through an authorized Haas Door Company dealer or installer. This claim must be submitted within fifteen (15) days of the discovery of the suspected defect. . . .
THE MANUFACTURER SHALL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY BREACH OF THIS EXPRESS LIMITED WARRANTY, including but not limited to any damage to buildings, other property or for any injuries or damages sustained by any person whomsoever, or the recovery of any direct or indirect costs such as shipping, travel, lost time, installation labor charges, paint or painting, cleaning, repair, or other building materials. . . .
THIS WARRANTY PRINTED ABOVE IS THE ONLY WARRANTY APPLICABLE TO THE PURCHASE; THERE ARE NO WARRANTIES WHICH EXTEND BEYOND THE DESCRIPTION ON THE FACE HEREOF. ANY EXPRESS WARRANTY NOT PROVIDED HEREIN, AND ANY REMEDIES WHICH BUT FOR THE WARRANTY CONTAINED HEREIN MIGHT ARISE BY IMPLICATION OR OPERATION OF LAW, IS HEREBY EXCLUDED AND DISCLAIMED, INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. . . .
THIS WARRANTY IS NOT TRANSFERRABLE.

(Id. (emphasis in original).)

         After the arena's construction, but before the warranty expired, the Hefflers discovered that the doors “leaked significantly, and that this leaking was causing damage to the Arena.” (Compl. ¶ 11.) Kaiser alleges that “Haas was promptly and timely notified of the problem, and remedial efforts were taken to cure the leaking.” (Id. at ¶ 12.) Haas replaced the doors' window panes with “new Haas-manufactured panes.” (Id. at ¶ 13.) The replacement work was done by “an entity that Haas, based upon [Kaiser's] information and belief, retained to address a chronic leak problem that Haas Doors had been experiencing nationwide.” (Id. at ¶ 14.)

         The new windows came with their own written manufacturer's warranty. (Id. at ¶ 15.)[4] The warranty provides: “Haas Door Company warrants the reglazing of all glass windows on Haas Door CA110 overhead garage doors previously installed at 720 Swedesford Road, Ambler, Pennsylvania, for a period of one year from completion of the reglazing, against water intrusion from rain or snow.” (Compl. Ex. B.) Like the warranty for the doors, this warranty required that “a claim in writing must be submitted to Haas Door Co., directed through an authorized Haas Door Co. dealer or installer . . . within 15 days of the discovery of the suspected defect.” (Id.)

         After the window repairs, the doors continued to leak. (Id. at ¶ 16.) “A request was then made for Haas to replace the defective Doors entirely.” (Id. at ¶ 17.) Haas refused. (Id. at ¶ 18.)

         In 2016, the Hefflers initiated a lawsuit by filing a Writ of Summons in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. (Id. at ¶ 19.) In 2018, they filed a complaint against Kaiser, Haas and Shank asserting claims for breach of express and implied warranties, breach of contract, negligence, strict liability and violations of the UTPCPL. (Id.); see Complaint, Heffler v. Kaiser Constr. Co., Inc., No. 2016-23211 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Montgomery Cty. Feb. 6, 2018).[5]

         On September 5, 2018, Haas entered into a tolling agreement with the Hefflers, requiring the Hefflers to file a stipulation dismissing the lawsuit as to Haas without prejudice and tolling the limitations period “on all Claims from the Filing Date through and including the earlier of (i) February 1, 2020 or (ii) the initiation of a new lawsuit by the Hefflers against Haas . . . .” (Compl. Ex. C at 29-30.) The agreement provides that the Hefflers “shall be free, on ten days written notice to Haas's attorney . . . to assert Claims against Haas in a new lawsuit.” (Id. at 30).

         Kaiser alleges that “[o]n or about March 13, 2019, Heffler and Haas, through counsel, discussed coordinating dates for an inspection of the Doors, and that Kaiser would be filing a new action under the rights assigned in a settlement” between the Hefflers and Kaiser. (Compl. ¶ 21.) According to Kaiser, its settlement with the Hefflers is confidential. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Kaiser attached to the Complaint only one provision of the Settlement Agreement:

5. Assignment of Claims. The Hefflers hereby assign and convey to Kaiser all of their claims and causes of action against Haas as set forth in their complaint in the Lawsuit, including but not limited to all claims arising out of or relating to the existing Doors, the installation of such Doors, the failed remediation efforts, and/or the damages caused by water leakage from the Doors (collectively, the “Assigned Claims”). . . . In the event Settling Defendants fail to timely and fully complete the Project in accordance with Section 3 above, the Hefflers shall have the option (but not the obligation), exercisable on five days written notice to Kaiser's attorney, to revoke the assignment set forth in this Section 5 and to pursue the Assigned Claims on their own.

(Compl. Ex. C at 28.)

         II

         To survive dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when the facts pled “allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that [a] defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         Twombly and Iqbal require the Court to take three steps to determine whether a complaint will survive a motion to dismiss. See Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). First, it must “take note of the elements the plaintiff must plead to state a claim.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675). Next, it must identify the allegations that are no more than legal conclusions and thus “not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Finally, where the complaint includes well-pleaded factual ...


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