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Bieda v. Case New Holland Industrial, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 3, 2019

DOUGLAS BIEDA, Plaintiff,
v.
CASE NEW HOLLAND INDUSTRIAL, INC. and LAMB & WEBSTER, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER RE: ECF NO. 6

          Maureen P. Kelly Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Douglas Bieda (“Plaintiff”) initiated this action against Defendant Case New Holland Industrial, Inc. (“CNH”)[1] and Lamb & Webster, Inc., (“L&W”), alleging claims arising out of his purchase of allegedly defective farming equipment.

         Presently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of L&W, ECF No. 6, seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's claims for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability (Count I), and breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose (Count II). For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss will be granted.[2]

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In January 2018, Plaintiff visited the L&W store in Grove City, Pennsylvania to discuss his need for a new planter.[3] ECF No. 1-1 ¶ 4. Based upon promises extended by L&W sales personnel related to increased crop production, Plaintiff purchased a 2018 Case IH 2150 12 Row 30 Planter with optional attachments for $168, 000. Id. ¶ 5. The Planter was delivered on May 1, 2018. Throughout the following month, L&W's technician failed to complete agreed servicing to ready the Planter for use and, upon start up by Plaintiff, the Planter displayed various error codes and messages indicating a malfunction with the Planter attachments. Id. ¶¶ 6-8. Plaintiff alleges that despite several attempts by L&W technicians, the Planter did not function properly as equipped and, as a result, Plaintiff was unable to satisfactorily or timely complete planting his 2018 corn crop. Id. ¶ 9.

         On or about May 30, 2018, L&W determined that CNH issued a service bulletin in January 2018 indicating that the Planter's attachments would not operate properly as equipped, and required that Plaintiff purchase and install a repair kit. Id. ¶¶ 12-13. The kit was not shipped until July 2018, well after planting season, and Plaintiff was forced to complete planting his crops with a malfunctioning Planter. Id. ¶ 14. As a result, Plaintiff's corn was not planted at a sufficient depth, and Plaintiff suffered substantial losses in crop yield, estimated to be approximately $250, 000. Id. ¶¶ 15-19.

         Plaintiff alleges that at the time he purchased the Planter, L&W was aware that Planter attachments would not operate as equipped. CNH addressed Plaintiff's concerns in the spring of 2019; however, upon commencing planting for the 2019 crop season, Plaintiff experienced continued errors, resulting in partial planting at an insufficient depth, and additional crop yield losses. Id. ¶¶ 22-24.

         Plaintiff thereafter commenced this lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, Pennsylvania, against CNH and L&W alleging claims for breach of implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, and breach of contract. ECF No. 1-1. On August 7, 2019, CNH removed Plaintiff's lawsuit to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, alleging CNH's status as a Delaware limited liability corporation, and the consent of L&W, a New York corporation. ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 7-9.

         L&W has filed the pending Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, contending that Plaintiff fails to state a claim for breach of any implied warranty because the relevant sales documents expressly and conspicuously disclaim all implied warranties. ECF No. 7 at 6. Accordingly, L&W argues that Plaintiff's remedy, if any, is limited to his claim for breach of contract. Plaintiff has filed his response in opposition to the motion and argues that express oral and written representations made at the time of sale give rise to independent implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose that survive the disclaimers set forth in the pertinent sales documents. ECF No. 14 at 4-7. L&W filed its reply and contends that pursuant to Pennsylvania law, the conspicuous disclaimers apply to any pre-sale promises, and that any injury suffered by Plaintiff resulted from defects in the Planter itself, which Plaintiff correctly attributes to CNH. ECF No. 15. In sum, L&W contends that Plaintiff cannot maintain his claims for the breach of any implied warranties as a matter of law, and dismissal is appropriate. The Motion to Dismiss is ripe for consideration.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A complaint must be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The plaintiff must aver “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).

         “Though a complaint ‘does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” DelRio-Mocci v. Connolly Prop. Inc., 672 F.3d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In other words, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Covington v. Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 118 (3d Cir. 2013) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). A court “take[s] as true all the factual allegations in the Complaint and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from those facts, but ... disregard[s] legal conclusions and threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ethypharm S.A. France v. Abbott Laboratories, 707 F.3d 223, 231, n.14 (3d Cir. 2013) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

Twombly and Iqbal require [a district court] to take 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).

         “[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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). This “plausibility” determination will be a “context-specific ...


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