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Wadsley v. Rev Recreation Group Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

March 20, 2018

DONNA WADSLEY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
REV RECREATION GROUP, INC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Plaintiffs' Complaint [ECF No. 11] for failure to state a claim, filed on October 10, 2017. The Plaintiffs filed a Response [ECF No. 24] on November 21, 2017, as well as a Motion to Amend Complaint [ECF No. 25]. On December 7, 2017, the Magistrate Judge granted [ECF No. 30] the Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend, and an Amended Complaint [ECF No. 31] was filed into the record that same day. Subsequently, on December 28, 2017, the Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss the Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint [ECF No. 33], to which the Plaintiffs responded on January 9, 2018 [ECF No. 35]. The Defendant filed a Reply on January 23, 2018. For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies the Defendant's Motions to Dismiss.

         BACKGROUND

         The basic factual allegations underlying the Amended Complaint are as follows: The Plaintiffs purchased a 2016 American Coach Eagle 45 C recreational vehicle (“the RV”) built in Indiana and sold in Michigan for $432, 000 in October of 2016. Over the ensuing nine months, the Plaintiffs discovered over two hundred defects in the RV. The Plaintiffs had the RV serviced numerous times, but various authorized servicing dealers were unable to satisfactorily cure the defects. The Plaintiffs notified the Defendant that they wanted their money back, but the Defendant refused to refund them.

         In their original Complaint, the Plaintiffs allege five causes of action: (1) breach of warranty and/or contract, (2) violation of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, (3) violation of the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act (“the IDCSA”), (4) product liability, and (5) negligence. The Defendant's first Motion to Dismiss concerns the third and fourth causes of action. The Defendant's second Motion to Dismiss concerns the third, fourth, and fifth causes of action.

         In support of their claim that the Defendant violated the IDCSA, the Plaintiffs allege that “[m]ore than 30 days prior to the filing hereof, specifically in 2016 and 2017, Plaintiff gave written notice to defendant of one or more abusive and/or unfair and/or deceptive and/or unconscionable acts, omissions, or practices were committed by Defendant and which were and remain uncured and/or were incurable.” (Compl. ¶ 38.) The Plaintiffs proceed to list seventeen of these alleged acts. (Id. at ¶ 39.) Thus, the Plaintiffs allege, the Defendant “committed one or more abusive and/or unfair and/or deceptive and/or unconscionable acts, omissions, or practices in violation of applicable state Udap law(s), before, during or after a consumer transaction between one or both Plaintiffs and a supplier in relation to [the RV].” (Id. at ¶ 40.) In response to the Defendant's first Motion to Dismiss, the Plaintiffs amended their Complaint to remove references to “incurable” acts and to append copies of the relevant written warranty and the written notices to the Defendant of the defects.

         In support of their claim that the Defendant is liable under a theory of product liability, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendant “designed, tested, manufactured, and assembled [the RV], and placed it in the stream of commerce.” (Id. at ¶ 43.) The Plaintiffs allege that “[a] stationary entry step and/or step system in Plaintiff's [RV] was defective” and that “[o]n or about November 21, 2016, due to the defective manufacture . . . an interior entry step in Plaintiffs' [RV] collapsed during Plaintiff Donna Wadsley's normal and foreseeable use of the interior entry step and/or step system, causing severe injury to Plaintiff Donna Wadsley.” (Id. at ¶¶ 44- 45.) The Plaintiffs further allege that the stationary interior entry step and/or step system (“the defective step”) was defective at the time of manufacture and sale, that it was not intended to collapse during normal use, that it was not reasonably safe, and that there was a feasible alternative design available at the time of manufacture that would not have significantly impaired the usefulness or desirability of the feature. (Id. at ¶¶ 45-49.) The Plaintiffs allege that the Defendant owed foreseeable users and consumers a “duty of care to reasonably warn of an unreasonable risk of harm associated with the intended use of [the RV], ” that the Defendant knew of the hazards of the defective step, that the Defendant “had no reason to believe that foreseeable users and consumers, including Plaintiffs, would realize the dangerous condition, ” and that the Defendant “failed to use reasonable care to warn users or consumers, including Plaintiffs, of the dangerous condition and unreasonable risk of harm associated with the interior entry step and/or step system.” (Id. at ¶¶ 50-53.) Thus, as a direct and proximate result of the defect, Plaintiff Donna Wadsley sustained “severe physical injuries.” (Id. at ¶ 54.) In response to the Defendant's first Motion to Dismiss, the Plaintiffs amended their Complaint to specify that their product liability claim arose “under Indiana and/or Michigan and/or Delaware state law.” (Amend. Compl. ¶ 42.)

         In support of their claim that the Defendant is liable under a theory of negligence, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendant breached its duty to (1) “reasonably warn of an unreasonable risk of harm associated with the intended use of the [RV], ” (2) “manufacture and distribute [the RV] in a condition free from defects and suitable for its intended use and not unreasonably dangerous”, and (3) “utilize an alternative design for [the RV]” that would “not significantly impair the usefulness or desirability of [the RV].” (Id. at ¶ 57.) The Plaintiffs claim that the Defendant breached one or more of these duties and that said breach was the proximate cause of Plaintiff Donna Wadsley's injury. (Id. at ¶¶ 58-59.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all of the factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the Plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). The Complaint need not contain detailed facts, but surviving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion “requires more than labels and conclusions . . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         ANALYSIS

         The Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this case premised both upon 28 U.S.C. § 1331, because the Plaintiffs have asserted a federal claim, and upon 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and the citizenship of the parties is diverse-the Defendant is a citizen of Indiana and the Plaintiffs are citizens of Maryland. As to the state law claims, the Court “must apply the law of the state as it believes the highest court of the state would apply it if the issues were presently before that tribunal.” State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Pate, 275 F.3d 666, 669 (7th Cir. 2001). “When the state Supreme Court has not decided the issue, the rulings of the state intermediate appellate courts must be accorded great weight, unless there are persuasive indications that the state's highest court would decide the case differently.” Id.

         A. The IDCSA

         In its first Motion to Dismiss, the Defendant moved to dismiss the Plaintiff's IDCSA claims because (1) the Plaintiffs failed to allege a “consumer transaction” in Indiana, (2) the Plaintiffs are barred by the statute of limitations because they failed to show that the allegedly deceptive acts were incurable or that they gave timely written notice to the Defendant, and (3) the Plaintiffs failed to meet the required heightened pleading standard when alleging incurable acts. The Defendant's second and third arguments are moot in light of the Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, in which they removed all references to “incurable acts” and attached documents in support of the fact that they gave timely written notice ...


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