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Leo v. Jeld-Wen, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

May 11, 2018




         Before the Court are dueling motions for partial summary judgment. Defendant, JELD-WEN, INC., filed its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 14) seeking dismissal of Plaintiffs' redhibition claim based on prescription. Plaintiffs, Ronald and Kathleen Leo, request that the Court grant their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 18) to declare that their JELD-WEN windows contain a redhibitory defect as a matter of law. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is DENIED and Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Between 2007 and 2008, Precision Construction Group ("PCG") built Plaintiffs' home. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 3). In 2007, Plaintiffs purchased approximately fifty JELD-WEN windows for installation into their new home. (Doc. 2*1 at p. 2). Upon moving into the home in December 2008, Plaintiffs noticed water leaking into the home. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶¶ 7-8). Plaintiffs reported the leaks to PCG. (Doc. 2-1 at p. 2). In response, PCG had a subcontractor perform additional waterproofing and caulking on Plaintiffs' home. (Doc. 17-1 at pp. 1-2, ll. 22-25, 1-25). Still, water continued to leak into the home. (Doc. 17-2 at p. 2). Plaintiffs hired American Leak Detection ("ALD") to inspect the home in September of 2012. (Id.). ALD identified numerous potential sources of the leak, including a potential roof flashing issue and insufficient caulking around the windows. (Id.; Doc. 17-3 at pp. 1-2).

         On November 7, 2012, Plaintiffs contacted their general contractor in an email that stated that they "had two leak detection companies out here to check, but no one is sure where the leak is." (Doc. 14-4 at p. 2). According to the email, "[o]ne guy thought it was the seal around the windows." (Id.) The general contractor responded in an email saying that he believed they had "found the majority of the causes" and proposed a set of actions including sealing the flashing, caulking the windows, applying sealer, and inspecting the windows. (Doc. 17-4 at p. 2). On November 14, 2012, another subcontractor performed an inspection of the windows. (Id.; Doc. 17-5 at p. 1, ll. 2-24). Reportedly, the subcontractor noticed potential water intrusion on one window. (Doc. 17-7 at p. 1 ll. 3-8). Based on these inspections, PCG issued a quote to make repairs that exceeded $50, 000, dated February 20, 2013. (Doc. 17-8 at p. 2).

         On March 18, 2013, Kathleen Leo filled out a JELD-WEN Customer Care online form. (Doc. 14-5 at p. 3). Kathleen Leo wrote, "[o]ur windows are leaking. There is evidence that water is getting through the seals, because when the window is opened we can see where the wood inside the window frame is discolored." (Id.). On July 23, 2013, Kathleen Leo once again called JELD-WEN Customer Care to report a "leak around the window." (Id. at p. 7). In response to the second phone call, Defendant suggested that Plaintiffs contact a JELD-WEN authorized service provider. (Id.).

         Although the record is not clear on the exact time period, sometime after PCG's repair quote, Ronald Leo contacted his homeowner's insurance. (Doc. 17-10 at p. 1, ll. 5-20). The insurer denied his claim because it reportedly told him the issues with his home "were all due to construction error." (Id. at pp. 1-2, ll. 22-25, 1-11).

         On November 8, 2013, Plaintiffs sued PCG, alleging that the causes of the water intrusion were construction defects and improper installation of the windows. (Doc. 14-6 at p. 1). That lawsuit was subsequently removed to arbitration. (Doc. 14-7 at p. 1). Plaintiffs' arbitration demand stated that the "windows were improperly installed and inadequately waterproofed, including but not limited to inadequate flashing, caulking, and sealing. " (Id. at ¶¶ 95-98). Arbitration continued until July 2015, when Plaintiffs settled their claims against PCG. (Doc. 14-1 at p. 5).

         After the close of arbitration, Kathleen Leo rented a thermal imaging camera on July 15, 2015. (Doc. 14-8 at p. 4). Although Kathleen Leo was not trained in the use of the camera, she pointed it at the windows to see if she could spot any problems. (Doc. 14-3 at p. 8, ll. 4-18). During this time, water continued to penetrate the house.

         On September 8, 2015, Plaintiffs hired Charles Dixon to remediate alleged construction defects in the windows. (Doc. 17-11 at p. 1, ll. 2-7). After repairing what Dixon thought were improper caulking or flashing issues and applying a waterproof sealant on the exterior of the home, (Doc. 17-12 at pp. 1-2, ll. 7-25, 1-7), Dixon sprayed the windows with a water hose in an "unofficial test." (Doc. 17-3 at p. 4, ll. 1-6). When Dixon sprayed the windows with water, he noticed that water was still coming in through the windows. (Id.).

         Following Dixon's report that water was still coming in through the windows, Plaintiffs contacted an authorized JELD-WEN service provider, Charles Doucet. (Id. at p. 4, ll. 7-9). Doucet inspected the windows and concluded that the frame weather stripping in the windows, which is installed at the factory, "were a little short" and "didn't quite meet up like they should." (Doc. 17-14 at p. 1, ll. 12-21). Reportedly, this alleged defect-which Doucet claimed would lead to water intrusion-was present throughout the house. (Id. at pp. 1-2, ll. 19-25, 1-2).

         Plaintiffs filed the instant suit in Louisiana state court on August 30, 2016. (Doc. 1-1 at p. 1). Defendant timely removed the suit to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 13332.[1] (Doc. 1).


         Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable ...

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