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Cusano v. General RV Center

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

July 16, 2019

Michael Cusano, Plaintiff,
v.
General RV Center, Fleetwood RV, and Freightliner Custom Chassis RV, Defendants.

          Elizabeth A. Stafford Mag. Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING FLEETWOOD RV AND FREIGHTLINER CUSTOM CHASSIS RV'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS [16, 17]

          JUDITH E. LEVY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This contract dispute was originally brought on June 11, 2018, by plaintiff Michael Cusano in Salt Lake County Circuit Court against various defendants involved in the design, manufacture, and sale of an allegedly deficient recreational vehicle (“RV”). (ECF No. 1.) Defendants removed it to the United States District Court for the District of Utah. (ECF No. 5, PageID.74.) The case was then transferred to this Court by the District of Utah pursuant to a forum-selection clause in the underlying purchase agreement between plaintiff and defendant General RV Center. (ECF No. 4.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on May 17, 2019. Before the Court are defendants Fleetwood RV and Freightliner Custom Chassis RV's motions to dismiss the amended complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         I. Background

         On July 21, 2015, Michael Cusano purchased a 2015 Expedition 38K RV from defendant General RV. (ECF No. 41, PageID.687.) This RV was manufactured by Fleetwood RV and Freightliner Custom Chassis RV (“the manufacturer defendants”). (Id.) Immediately after purchase, Cusano discovered several serious defects in the RV, including (1) heavy swaying back and forth when reaching speeds over 55 miles an hour, (2) rattling and vibrating of the steering wheel, (3) defectively plumbed suspension, (4) defective refrigerator, (5) defective GPS, (6) improperly connected sliding doors and mirrors, (7) nonfunctioning light switches, (8) wheels that were out of alignment, and (9) a hydraulic foundation that would not level. (Id. at PageID.691.)

         Cusano immediately informed General RV and the manufacturer defendants of these defects and brought the RV to a third-party shop and to General RV for repairs. (Id. at PageID.692.) General RV told him the vehicle would be taken to Freightliner for repair. (Id. at PageID.693.) While the vehicle was at General RV, Cusano also contacted Freightliner, where a Robert Velarde told him that the steering linkage had been adjusted and that the “air suspension ride was ‘plumbed in reverse'.” (Id. at PageID.693.) Several weeks later, a General RV representative told Cusano his RV was ready to pick up, and Cusano retrieved it. (Id.)

         Cusano then started preparing the RV for a long drive to New York to visit his dying mother. (Id. at PageID.694.) He discovered that the refrigerator was still defective. (Id.) Although he took the vehicle back to General RV, he left with it before repairs were completed. (Id. at PageID.695.) During his drive to New York, Cusano discovered the initial defects had not been resolved, and further defects became apparent. (Id. at PageID.696-697.) The cab began to fill with smoke. Id. Some time during this drive, Cusano contacted Fleetwood, which told him smoke should not be filling the cabin, and to keep the heat running in order to prevent the water tanks from freezing. (Id. at PageID.695.) Fleetwood also told him that-contrary to General RV's assertions-the water tanks were not insulated and had no electric heaters, and that this was why he had to keep running the heating system. (Id. at PageID.695-96)

         As a result of driving the defective vehicle, Cusano sustained injuries and became physically ill. (Id. at 698-99.) On January 8, 2016, Cusano's mother died. (ECF No. 41-4, PageID.723.) Due to his illness, Cusano was unable to visit her as planned and missed her funeral. (ECF No. 41, PageID.699.)

         When he returned to Utah, Cusano once again brought the RV to General RV for repairs. (Id.) On May 3, 2016, he also contacted Fleetwood, where he spoke with “Shane, ” who assured him that all the defects were “100% repairable.” (Id. at PageID.700.) Shane further told Cusano that he had years of experience fixing recreational vehicles, that all its problems could be corrected, and that the heating system in this RV presented a “huge problem” which should have been detected in previous inspections. (Id.) Cusano never possessed the RV again, nor was it ever repaired. (Id.) In January of 2017, Cusano discovered his old RV had been repossessed. (Id. at PageID.701.) Later, Cusano discovered that General RV had used his RV for replacement parts prior to selling it as a new vehicle. (Id. at PageID.702.)

         Cusano subsequently filed this suit in Salt Lake County Circuit Court on June 11, 2018, raising six claims against the manufacturer defendants: (1) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) strict product liability, (3) negligence, (4) negligent misrepresentation, (5) breach of express warranties, and (6) breach of the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. (ECF No. 1-1, PageID.16-26.) On General RV's motion, the case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. (ECF No. 5, PageID.74.) On July 27 and August 3, 2018, respectively, the manufacturer defendants filed motions to dismiss. (Id. at PageID.76-77.) On February 2, 2019, the case was transferred to this Court pursuant to a forum-selection clause in the purchase agreement. (Id. at 77.) On March 27, 2019, this Court ordered all pending dispositive motions to be re-filed. (ECF No. 15, PageID.236.) Pursuant to the Court's order, the manufacturer defendants refiled their motions to dismiss on March 27 and April 4, 2019 (ECF No. 16, 17).

         During a status conference, the Court permitted plaintiff to file an amended complaint on May 17, 2019, inviting the plaintiff to address any issues in the pending motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 41.) However, instead of limiting the claims, plaintiff added the manufacturer defendants to additional counts, including breach of contract (Count I), strict product liability (Count II), negligence (Count III), negligent misrepresentation (Count IV), fraud (Count V), breach of the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose (Count VI), and violation of the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act (Count VII).

         The defendant manufacturer's motions to dismiss are now before the Court.

         II. Legal Standard

         When deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all allegations as true.” Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 608 (6th Cir. 2012). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff's claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. A plausible claim need not contain ‚Äúdetailed factual allegations, ...


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