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Salazar v. Harbor Freight Tools, USA, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

November 18, 2016

ROBERT SALAZAR, Plaintiff,
v.
HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS, USA, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT HARBOR FREIGHT'S AMENDED MOTION TO DISMISS, DENYING HARBOR FREIGHT'S ORIGINAL MOTION TO DISMISS AS MOOT, GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND, AND DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT

          HONORABLE THOMAS L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On July 19, 2016 Plaintiff Robert Salazar initiated the above-captioned diversity action by filing his complaint against Defendants Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc., and Defendant Bada Mechanical. See Compl. ECF No. 2. Plaintiff alleges that he was injured by a malfunctioning electrical hoist that he purchased from Defendant Harbor Freight, which was manufactured by Defendant Bada. Compl. ¶ 6-17. He therefore asserts one count of negligent manufacturing and design against Defendant Bada and one count of negligent sale and distribution against Defendant Harbor Freight. Compl. ¶¶ 18-25.

         On August 29, 2016 Defendant Harbor Freight filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See ECF No. 7. Harbor Freight then filed an amended motion to dismiss on August 31, 2016. In both motions, Harbor Freight contends that Plaintiff has not satisfied the requirements for asserting a products liability action against a non-manufacturing seller as set forth in Michigan Compiled Law 600.2947. See Def's Amend. Mot. Dismiss, ECF No 9. In response Plaintiff Salazar has moved to amend his complaint. See PL's Mot Amend, ECF No. 13. For the reasons stated below, Defendant Harbor Freight's motion to dismiss will be granted and Plaintiffs motion to amend will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I.

         Plaintiff Robert Salazar is a resident of the City of Alger, located within Alger County, Michigan. See Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant Harbor Freight is a foreign corporation that does business in several counties in the state of Michigan. Id. at ¶ 2. Defendant Bada is a foreign corporation operating out of mainland China that manufactures certain parts and equipment for Harbor Freight's HaulMaster line of products. Id. at ¶ 3.

         On May 6, 2014 Plaintiff Salazar purchased an electrical hoist from Defendant Harbor Freight's HaulMaster line, designated as Item 60344-47. Id. at ¶ 6. The hoist was allegedly manufactured by Defendant Bada and sold and distributed by Defendant Harbour Freight. Id. at ¶ 10. It was represented that the hoist had the capacity to lift up to 1, 300 pounds. Id. at ¶ 13. Plaintiff purchased the hoist from a Harbor Fright store located in Saginaw, Michigan, for a purchase price of $120.00. Id. at ¶¶ 6-7. He intended to use the hoist for a vertical valet, or "dumb waiter, " and so used the device one or two times without incident. Id. at ¶¶ 8-9.

         The events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred on June 7, 2014. Id. at ¶ 4. On that date, Plaintiff loaded an air compressor and a number of chairs on the dumb waiter, together weighing approximately 250 pounds, and activated the Hoist. Id. at 11-12. When the dumb waiter reached the top of the hoist the cable broke, causing the waiter to fall and strike Plaintiff Salazar despite his efforts to avoid the falling waiter. Id. at ¶ 14. As a result Plaintiff sustained serious injuries, including a left distal tibia fracture that required surgery. Id. at ¶ 15.

         Plaintiff initiated suit against Defendants on July 19, 2016. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the accident was caused by a manufacturing defect in the hoist cable. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges

the free end section of the cable adjacent to the ferrule swaying the free end of the cable to the work section of the cable is kinked. Furthermore the working section of the cable under the ferrule was cut. The kink and cut sections of the cable allowed and caused the break and the free fall of the vertical dumb waiter on June 7, 2014.

Id. at ¶ 17. Count one of Plaintiff s complaint asserts negligent design and manufacturing by Defendant Bada. Id. at ¶¶ 18-22. Count two of Plaintiff s complaint asserts negligent sale and distribution by Defendant Harbor Freight. Id. at ¶¶ 23-25.

         Defendant Harbor Freight was served on August 8, 2016. See ECF No. 6. On September 22, 2016 Plaintiff filed a motion to extend the time to serve the complaint on Defendant Bada pursuant to the Hague Convention outline regarding service on Chinese companies. See ECF No. 11. Plaintiffs request was granted. See ECF No. 14. As of this date service has not been executed on Defendant Bada.

         II.

         Because Plaintiff Salazar's proposed amendment is somewhat dependent upon his existing claims, Defendant Harbor Freight's motion to dismiss will be addressed first. A pleading fails to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) if it does not contain allegations that support recovery under any recognizable legal theory. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, (2009). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court construes the pleading in the non-movant's favor and accepts the allegations of facts therein as true. See Lambert, 517 F.3d at 439. The pleader need not have provided "detailed factual allegations" to survive dismissal, but the "obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In essence, the pleading "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to ...


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