Pennsylvania Record

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Garage door maker obtains victory in lawsuit brought by contractor

Federal Court

By Charmaine Little | Jul 18, 2019

Philadelphia federal courthouse

PHILADELPHIA – A garage door manufacturer accused of producing malfunctioned merchandise was granted its motion to dismiss in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on July 2.  

Kaiser Martin Group Inc. first filed the lawsuit in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Haas Door Co. manufactured doors for Kaiser, which is a construction company hired to build a horse-riding arena on a Montgomery County property. Kaiser said the doors Haas built caused issues such as leakage and other damages to the entire structure. 

It filed the lawsuit with claims that Haas violated the terms of the warranty when it vowed its doors wouldn’t have defects for a year and that the doors wouldn’t have water intrusion for a year.  

Haas faced six claims: breach of manufacturer’s warranties, breach of implied warranties, breach of contract, negligence, strict liability, and violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Haas timely removed the litigation to the U.S. District Court and filed a motion to dismiss, which Judge Gerald Pappert granted.

Concerning the breach of manufacturer’s warranties claims (Count I), Pappert wrote, “Kaiser has not sufficiently alleged it is entitled to enforce breach of warranty claims on its own behalf and/or as the assignee.” The court gave Kaiser leave to change its pleading to better explain the rights it said it has.

As for the breach of implied warranties claims (Count II), the court ruled Haas has a clear and obvious disclaimer that reads in all capital letters, “There are no warranties which extend beyond the description of the face hereof.” The court said the disclaimer is evident and noted, “The text, printed legibly in capital letters, appears in a paragraph set apart from other text at the bottom of a one-page warranty document.” 

While Kaiser said the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act (MMWA) makes the disclaimer null and void, Haas said the MMWA only refers to “consumer products” and the doors are considered “commercial aluminum garage doors.” The court agreed and dismissed this count as well.

The court then evaluated the breach of contract claim, saying Kaiser's “attempt to distinguish Count I from Count III is unavailing” and dismissing the third count.

For Count IV (negligence), the court added that the lawsuit doesn’t properly say whether Haas was responsible to Kaiser for a duty of care. It gave Kaiser leave to amend and determine if Kaiser sued for negligence for itself or as an assignee, and also to prove if Haas was responsible to a party involved to design, manufacture and advertise the doors with proper care.

When it comes to Kaiser’s clams that Haas violated the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, the court said the lawsuit failed to claim that Kaiser “relied on any deceptive conduct by Haas,” according to the lawsuit. Kaiser also didn’t property state a UTPCPL claim for breach of express warranties as it never mentioned if it was owed the ability to enforce express warranties at hand.

Ultimately, the court dismissed the case with prejudice, but gave Kaiser a chance to amend the complaint before July 22.

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