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Lee v. Forest River, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

September 14, 2017

DAVID E. LEE
v.
FOREST RIVER, INC., ET AL.

         SECTION “R” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SARAH S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendants Forest River, Inc., Dixie Motors, Inc., and Bank of America, National Association, move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1] For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of the sale of an allegedly defective recreational vehicle (RV).[2] On September 14, 2013, plaintiff bought a new 2014 Coachman Leprechaun from Defendant Dixie Motors, LLC.[3] The purchase was financed by Defendant Bank of America, National Association.[4]Defendants Forest River, Inc. and General Motors, LLC each allegedly manufactured components of the vehicle.[5] Plaintiff asserts that the Coachman Leprechaun was defective in materials and workmanship at the time of delivery, and that these defects were discovered within the warranty periods.[6] Specifically, plaintiff alleges that the RV has experienced problems with the engine not starting and dying out, water leaks from the air conditioner, electrical defects, and engine defects.[7] According to the complaint, plaintiff returned the vehicle to defendants for warranty repairs on multiple occasions, but the defects have not been remedied.[8]

         On March 14, 2017, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendants alleging negligent repair, lender liability and violations of both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Louisiana redhibition laws.[9] Plaintiff seeks damages, rescission of the sales contract, and attorneys' fees and costs.[10] Defendants Forest River, Dixie Motors, and Bank of America now move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[11] Defendant General Motors has not joined this motion.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead “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 plaintiff pleads facts that allow the court to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. A court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232 (5th Cir. 2009).

         A legally sufficient complaint must establish more than a “sheer possibility” that the plaintiff's claim is true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. It need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it must go beyond labels, legal conclusions, or formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action. Id. In other words, the face of the complaint must contain enough factual matter to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal relevant evidence of each element of the plaintiff's claim. Lormand, 565 F.3d at 257. The claim must be dismissed if there are insufficient factual allegations to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, or if it is apparent from the face of the complaint that there is an insuperable bar to relief, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants move to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the alleged defects are not subject to warranty, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claims and redhibition claims are prescribed on the face of the complaint, and Bank of America is not liable as a matter of law.[12] The Court considers each issue in turn.

         A. Warranty Coverage

         The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act “creates a statutory cause of action for consumers damaged by the failure of a supplier, warrantor, or service contractor to comply with any obligation imposed by the Act or established by a written warranty, implied warranty, or service contract.” Walton v. Rose Mobile Homes, LLC, 298 F.3d 470, 474 (5th Cir. 2002) (citation and quotation marks omitted). “The Act does not require that a seller give a warranty on a consumer product, but if a warranty is given, it must comply with the terms of the Act.” Boelens v. Redman Homes, Inc., 748 F.2d 1058, 1061 (5th Cir. 1984). Plaintiff alleges that defendants Forest River and General Motors are “suppliers” and “warrantors” under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and that the express warranties pertaining to the vehicle are a “written warranty” under the Act.[13]

         Defendants argue that the defects alleged in the complaint do not give rise to a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act because the defects are not covered by a warranty.[14] In support of their motion, defendants attach Forest River's limited warranty for recreational vehicles.[15] The Court may consider a document attached to a motion to dismiss if it is referenced in plaintiff's complaint and central to his claim. See In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007); Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498-99 (5th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff's complaint alleges an express warranty by Forest River, and this warranty is central to plaintiff's Magnuson-Moss claim against Forest River.[16] Moreover, plaintiff has expressed no objection to the introduction of the warranty. See Scanlan v. Tex. A & M Univ., 343 F.3d 533, 536 (5th Cir. 2003). The Court may therefore consider the terms of the limited warranty.

         The Forest River limited warranty provides coverage for a period of one year from the date of purchase or 12, 000 miles, whichever occurs first.[17]Plaintiff purchased the RV on September 14, 2013.[18] The limited warranty covers “the body structure of th[e] recreational vehicle” and expressly disclaims any warranty for “the motorhome chassis including without limitation, the engine and drivetrain, any mechanical parts or systems of the chassis, tires, tubes, batteries and gauges, optional generators, routine maintenance, equipment and appliances, or audio and/or video equipment.”[19]

         Plaintiff does not contest the authenticity of this limited warranty, nor does he argue that the warranty is otherwise invalid. As required by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the one-page warranty is conspicuously designated as a “limited warranty, ” and its terms are “fully and conspicuously disclose[d] in simple and readily understood language.” See 15 U.S.C. §§ 2302-03. The warranty also clearly limits the duration of any implied warranties to the one year or 12, 000 mile express warranty period. See 15 U.S.C. § 2308(b). The defects complained of by plaintiff include electrical defects, engine defects, and problems with the air conditioning.[20] These alleged defects do not relate to the body structure of the RV and are expressly excluded by the terms of the limited warranty. Accordingly, plaintiff has not stated a claim against Forest River under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

         The complaint also asserts that General Motors provided additional warranties on the RV.[21] General Motors has not joined this motion to dismiss, and any alleged General Motors warranty is not before the Court. The Court therefore makes no finding at this time as to whether the complained of defects are covered by a General Motors warranty.

         B. Statute ...


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