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Kelly v. Lee County RV Sales Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

June 26, 2018

GERALDINE KELLY, personally and individually Plaintiff,
v.
LEE COUNTY RV SALES COMPANY d/b/a NORTH TRAIL RV CENTER, and NEWMAR CORPORATION, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES D. WHITTEMORE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Dkt. 3, 4). Plaintiff has not responded to either Motion, and they are therefore unopposed. Upon consideration, the Motions are GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND Plaintiff Geraldine Kelly brought this action alleging a breach of warranty claim against Defendants North Trail RV Center (“North Trail”) and Newmar Corporation (“Newmar”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants provided her with certain warranties when she purchased a recreational vehicle, and that Defendants breached these warranties by failing to repair defects in the vehicle after receiving notice of them. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants failed to provide her with certain express warranties as guaranteed to her by the Purchase Contract attached as “Exhibit A” to the Amended Complaint.

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges five counts: (1) Breach of Express Warranty, (2) Violation of Magnuson-Moss Warranty-Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act (15 U.S.C. § 2301), (3) Fraud, (4) Fraudulent Inducement and (5) Unfair Trade. Defendants move to dismiss all Counts of the Amended Complaint, arguing primarily it is an impermissible shotgun pleading that fails to meet the standards of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 10(b). (Dkt. 3, 4). Defendants move to dismiss Counts I and II for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Counts III and IV with prejudice on the ground that they are barred by Florida's economic loss rule, and Count V with prejudice for failure to allege facts supporting the claim. Defendants additionally request jurisdiction be reserved to award Defendants reasonable costs and attorney's fees under Florida Statute Section 501.2015 as it relates to the dismissal of Count V.

         II. STANDARD

         A complaint must contain “a short plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Plaintiff must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The factual allegations within a complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above a speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A sufficient pleading “require[s] more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 558. All factual allegations contained in the complaint must be accepted as true for the purposes of a motion to dismiss, but this tenet is “inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 at 678. “[C]onclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of facts or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal.” Oxford Asset Management, Ltd. v. Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th Cir. 2002).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Shotgun Pleading

         Defendants move to dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety as an impermissible shotgun pleading. The Eleventh Circuit has identified four types of “shotgun” complaints: (1) a complaint containing multiple counts where each count adopts the allegations of all preceding counts, causing each successive count to carry all that came before and the last count to be a combination of the entire complaint; (2) a complaint that is replete with conclusory, vague, and immaterial facts not obviously connected to any particular cause of action; (3) a complaint that does not separate into a different count each cause of action or claim for relief; and (4) a complaint that asserts multiple claims against multiple defendants without specifying which of the defendants are responsible for which acts or omissions, or which of the defendants the claim is brought against. Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1321-23 (11th Cir. 2015). “The unifying characteristic of all types of shotgun pleadings is that they fail to one degree or another, and in one way or another, to give the defendants adequate notice of the claims against them and the grounds upon which each claim rests.” Id.

         Here, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is an impermissible shotgun pleading that asserts multiple claims against multiple defendants without specifying which of the defendants are responsible for which acts or omissions, or which of the defendants each claim is brought against. For example, in Count I (“Breach of Express Warranty”), Plaintiff should have but failed to separately allege each cause of action against each Defendant, as well as to distinguish which Defendant issued what “warranty.” Plaintiff instead commingles both “written warranties” and “implied warranties” referenced in Paragraph 7 of Count I, and then fails to attach the referenced warranties underlying her claims. Although Plaintiff supplies an executed Purchase Contract in Exhibit A, the Purchase Contract does not contain the language referenced by Plaintiff in her claims.[1] Similarly, in Count III, Plaintiff alleges that North Trail made a specific representation in Paragraph 31 of the Amended Complaint, but then generally alleges both Defendants made unspecified representations.[2] Consequently, the Amended Complaint does not give Defendants adequate notice of the claims against them and the grounds upon which each claim rests, and therefore will be dismissed as a shotgun pleading.

         B. Counts I-II

         Counts I and II respectively allege a breach of express warranty claim and a violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty-Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act (“Magnuson Moss Warranty Act”) claim. Defendants contend that because Count II is premised on the existence of Plaintiff's insufficient breach of warranty claim in Count I, Count II also fails to state a claim.

         The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is a federal warranty enforcement statute. The Act does not create nor require any warranties from manufacturers. 15. U.S.C. § 2302(2)(b). (“[N]othing in this chapter . . . shall be deemed . . . [to] require a consumer product or any of its components to be warranted.”). However, a consumer may file a claim for a breach of warranty in conjunction with the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act if a product manufacturer does issue a warranty and fails to honor its terms. Bailey v. Monaco Coach Corp., 350 F.Supp.2d 1036, 1043 (N.D.Ga. 2004), affirmed, 168 Fed.Appx. 893 (11th Cir. 2006) (absent an actionable warranty claim, there can be no violation of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act). In sum, a breach of warranty claim under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is dependent upon having a viable underlying state breach of warranty claim. Burns v. Winnebago, 2012 WL 171088 at *4 (M.D. Fla. 2012), affirmed, 492 Fed. App'x 44, 49 (11th Cir. 2012) (affirming summary judgment on RV plaintiff's MMWA claim because their underlying breach of warranty claim failed).

         Here, Plaintiff alleges that a warranty was provided to her by Defendants, and supplies Exhibit A as evidence of this alleged warranty. However, as discussed, Plaintiff does not identify against each Defendant separately the precise warranty at issue. Nor is the warranty provision she references contained in Exhibit A. Because Count I fails to state a distinct breach of warranty claim against ...


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