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Dytko v. Forest River, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 20, 2017

KARLENE DYTKO and GERRY DYTKO, Plaintiffs,
v.
FOREST RIVER, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          STEPHAN M. VIDMAR UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's Motion and Memorandum for Summary Judgment, filed September 25, 2017. [Doc. 26]. Plaintiffs responded on October 16, 2017. [Doc. 29]. Defendant did not file a reply, and the time for doing so has passed. Having considered the record, briefing, and relevant law, and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, the Court finds that Defendant's motion is well-taken and will be GRANTED.

         Background

         Plaintiffs purchased a new 2012 Forest River Georgetown Motorhome on or around April 22, 2013, from McMahon's RV, a recreational vehicle dealership in Mesa, Arizona. [Doc. 26] at 4. Defendant Forest River was the end-stage manufacturer of the motorhome. Id. It manufactured some, but not all, of the component parts and integrated them into a final product. Id. Defendant does not sell recreational vehicles directly to the public. Id. The motorhome came with a written one-year limited warranty. Id. The warranty provides, in pertinent part, the following:

“([W]arrantor) warrants to the ORIGINAL CONSUMER PURCHASER ONLY, when purchased from an authorized Forest River, Inc. dealer, for a period of (1) one year from date of purchase (Warranty Period), that the body structure of this recreational vehicle shall be free of substantial defects in materials and workmanship attributable to Warrantor. . . .
WARRANTOR EXPRESSLY LIMITS THE DURATION OF ALL EXPRESS AND IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE EXCEPT IN THOSE STATES THAT DO NOT ALLOW THIS EXCLUSION. WARRANTOR EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AFTER EXPIRATION OF THE WARRANTY PERIOD. No action to enforce express or implied warranties shall be commenced later than (90) ninety days after expiration of the warranty period. . . .
No action to enforce express or implied warranties shall be commenced without prior written notice to the manufacture[r] and/or warrantor at the address listed above of the alleged defect or nonconformity or the authorized repair facility's failed repair attempt and MANUFACTURE[R], AT ITS DIRECT OPTION, shall have a final opportunity to remedy. . . .
Warrantor will remedy substantial defects in materials and workmanship caused by Warrantor. Warrantor shall elect to remedy the defect from among the following: repair, replacement or refund. . . .

[Doc. 27] at 6 (emphases in original).

         Plaintiffs allege that upon delivery the motorhome was defective. [Doc. 29] at 2. Among other things, they allege defective conditions relating to the generator, electrical wiring, windows, walls, and trim. Id. Upon noticing the defects, Plaintiffs sought to have the motorhome repaired. Plaintiffs state that they attempted to contact the dealership from which they had purchased the motorhome, but it had gone out of business. Id. On February 20, 2014, before the expiration of the limited warranty, Plaintiffs took the motorhome to Camping World, a recreational vehicle dealership in Anthony, Texas, to be repaired. [Doc. 26] at 4-5. Plaintiffs allege that Camping World is an “authorized Forest River repair facility.” [Doc. 29] at 2.

         Plaintiffs allege that, before dropping off the motorhome for repair, they had been in communication with Defendant's warranty manager. Id. On February 12, 2014, they emailed a list of 65 items in need of repair to the warranty manager. Id. Plaintiffs allege that during the time their motorhome was at Camping World, they were in regular communication with employees of both Camping World and Defendant. Id. Plaintiffs allege that they were “continually told by Camping World that they were waiting on [Defendant] for either replacement parts for the Motorhome or for authorization to repair certain items.” Id. Defendant disputes this assertion. Defendant contends that it only became aware on November 3, 2014, that Plaintiffs had taken the motorhome to Camping World for repairs. [Doc. 27] at 3.

         The motorhome remained at the dealership for more than a year. See [Doc. 26] at 6. Plaintiffs picked it up on October 10, 2015. Id. The warranty had long since expired. Plaintiffs allege that, despite the prolonged repair time, not all the defects were repaired. [Doc. 29] at 2-3. In November 2015, Plaintiffs emailed Defendant's new warranty manager to report that the motorhome had not been fully repaired within the warranty period. Id. Plaintiffs also contacted Camping World to report that not all the defects had been fixed. Id. at 3. Plaintiffs allege that they were told by Camping World in July 2016 that no further repairs on the motorhome could be completed because Defendant had not reimbursed them for repairs they had already made. Id. Defendant maintains that Plaintiffs “never asked Forest River to repair any Forest River warrantable items that they claim [were] not properly repaired by a third-party service or repair facility.” [Doc. 26] at 6. And Plaintiffs never “sent written notice of any warrantable items that have not been properly repaired or replaced by a repair facility during the limited one year warranty period.” Id. at 7. Defendant has never repaired the motorhome. Id. at 6. Plaintiffs currently have possession of the motorhome. Id.

         Plaintiffs filed the instant lawsuit on November 11, 2016. [Doc. 1]. They allege violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301; breach of express and implied warranties; breach of contract;[1] and negligent repair. Id. at 5-9. Plaintiffs seek damages for diminution in value of the motorhome as a result of the defects that were present at the time of purchase; damages for loss of use of the motorhome; out-of-pocket damages for expenditures on repairs and towing; attorney's fees; costs; and interest. Id. at 10.

         Defendant has moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs' claims. [Doc. 26]. First, Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs' warranty claims are untimely. Defendant contends that, under Arizona law, parties may contract to shorten the applicable statute of limitations. Id. at 7- 8 (citing Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 47-2725). Defendant argues that the limited warranty agreement reduced the limitation period to 90 days from the expiration of the warranty. Id. at 8. Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit more than two years after the expiration of the limitation period provided in the warranty agreement. Defendant further contends that Plaintiffs' claim for breach of implied warranty must fail because there was no privity of contract between the parties. Id. at 9-10. As to Plaintiffs' claims for violation of the express terms of the warranty, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs were required to notify Defendant in writing of any alleged defects within the warranty period and afford Defendant the opportunity to repair them. Id. at 10-11. By failing to do so, Defendant contends, Plaintiffs' warranty claims fail. Finally, Defendant argues that the economic loss doctrine prohibits Plaintiffs from prevailing on their negligent repair claim. Id. at 12.

         As to the timeliness of the lawsuit, Plaintiffs contend that § 47-2725 is inapplicable because it pertains only to “contracts for sale” and requires that the language reducing the statute of limitations be present in “the original agreement” between the parties. Id. at 5. Plaintiffs claim that the warranty satisfies neither of these requirements. In the alternative, Plaintiffs argue that the warranty amounts to a contract of adhesion and the limitation clause is therefore void. Id. at 6. Plaintiffs also refute Defendant's argument as to the privity requirement for breach of implied warranty claims, appearing to rest on the language of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Id. at 7-8. Finally, as to their claims for breach of express warranty, Plaintiffs contend that they notified Defendant within the warranty period of the claimed defects, submitting as evidence several pages of emails between Plaintiffs, employees of Defendant, and employees at Camping World. Id.; [Doc. 29-2].

         Summary ...


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