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Ward Adventures, LLC v. Buddy Gregg Motor Homes

March 20, 2007

WARD ADVENTURES, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BUDDY GREGG MOTOR HOMES, INC. AND COUNTRY COACH DESTINATIONS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas W. Phillips United States District Judge

(Phillips/Guyton)

MEMORANDUM AND OPINION

The matter before the Court involves an allegedly defective motor home. The plaintiff's claims are based upon contract principles, express and implied warranties, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act ("MMWA"), and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"). The defendants have filed motions for summary judgment [Docs. 14, 16, and 26], and parties have been given sufficient time to file responses and replies. For the reasons that follow, defendants' motions for summary judgment are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. Summary of the Facts

As the law requires, all disputed facts and inferences are resolved most favorably for the movant. Furthermore, the Court merely provides an abridged summary of facts for the purposes of this opinion.

The motor home subject to this suit was manufactured by Country Coach, Inc. ("CCI").*fn1 On or about May 2, 2000, CCI sold the subject motor home to LazyDays RV Supercenter ("LazyDays") in Florida. Three days later, the motor home was sold to the first retail customer.

The motor home was accompanied by a limited warranty from CCI. According to CCI's written limited warranty, CCI agreed to cover the house portion of the motor home for the first twelve months after the original retail purchase date, or on or before May 5, 2001. This warranty applied to "covered defects" as defined in the warranty. The warranty did not, however, apply to component parts manufactured by other companies, such as the engine, transmission, generator, leveling jacks, water heater, brakes, suspension components, furnace, windows, and doors. Further, CCI agreed, by written warranty, to cover the chassis portion of the motor home for the first twenty four months after the original retail purchase date, or on or before May 5, 2002. This written limited warranty also applied to "covered defects," but likewise excluded components manufactured by other companies. In addition, front-end alignments were expressly excluded from the warranty coverage. Both the house and chassis portions of the written limited warranty disclaimed all implied warranties, including an implied warranty of merchantability. The written warranty articulated, however, that in states where this disclaimer is not enforceable, any implied warranty is limited to the duration of this written warranty where permitted by law.

On or about April 29, 2002, plaintiff Ward Adventures, LLC ("Ward Adventures ")*fn2 agreed to purchase the subject motor home from Buddy Gregg Motor Homes, Inc. ("Buddy Gregg") in Knoxville, Tennessee. The cost of the motor home totaled approximately $300,000.00, including taxes, fees, and other charges. Buddy Gregg was to prep the motor home, which included fixing a scratch in the back, aligning the tires, putting new tires on the front end of the coach, replacing china crystal, and installing a satellite system. With respect to the front end alignment, Buddy Gregg sent the motor home to Tennessee Tire, a Knoxville Company, to perform this task. After completion of the repairs, the motor home was formally sold to Ward Adventures on May 7, 2002.

At the time of the purchase, both written manufacturer warranties from CCI had expired. As to any warranties to be offered by Buddy Gregg, the sales agreement states that the motor home is purchased "As Is." Further, Buddy Gregg asserts that, in the process of selling the motor home, its salesmen, namely Rob Cunningham ("Cunningham") and/or Doug Larson ("Larson"), expressly advised the plaintiff that there was no warranty and that the motor home would be purchased "As Is." However, plaintiff avers that certain representations were made to plaintiff by Buddy Gregg. These representations, allegedly made by Cunningham and/or Larson, include the following: (1) the motor home in question was in perfect condition; (2) "Buddy Gregg only takes in and sells coaches that are reputable, that are top of the line coaches, and if they take a coach that doesn't meet their inspection or walk through or everything else, they wholesale them;" (3) that "they don't fix a piece of junk and sell it;" (4) the subject coach was going to last for the rest of their lives; (5) the motor home was a fine motor home and would last hundreds of thousands of miles.

Although, there is no evidence presented that CCI made any warranties regarding the subject motor home in its pre-owned state, plaintiff states that in purchasing the motor home, it also relied upon the representations of CCI, through sales agent Robert Lee ("Lee"). Apparently, Lee stated that CCI's coaches would last a lifetime and so forth at a trade show approximately two years before the purchase of the pre-owned motor home by plaintiff. Further, the plaintiff avers that it relied upon the advertisements and promotional literature of both defendants.

The Pietrowskis began experiencing problems with the motor home immediately after the purchase date. Alleged defects involve the front end alignment, tires, generator, furnace, side windows, windshield, leveling jacks, airline brakes, electrical system, and satellite system. The record sets forth a number of repairs and servicings of the subject motor home. As to the alignment, in separate instances, both CCI and Buddy Gregg had an alignment performed on the motor home. Thereafter, in February of 2003, the plaintiff was allegedly advised by LazyDays, during a servicing, that the front end of the motor home had never been aligned. At that time, LazyDays performed the alignment and repaired other troubling problems in the Fall of 2003, including the furnace and generator, which plaintiff asserts the defendants were supposed to have fixed.

Plaintiffs' assertions against the defendants include a duty on part of the defendants to disclose the defective condition of the motor home; that the motor home meets the substantial impairment test under Tennessee law as being defective; that it incurred expense in fixing the motor home; that it was given warranties by both defendants through verbal representations of defendants' agents and defendants' advertisements; and that the defendants did not successfully repair the defects, engaging in deceptive and unfair trade practices. In response, the defendants state that the plaintiff (1) purchased a two-year-old, used motor home "As Is," for $285,000, (2) at a time when the manufacturer's twelve-month limited warranty had long since expired, (3) drove it for approximately 30,000 miles over a two-year period, (4) encountered routine maintenance items, (5) conveyed it to its sole member who thereafter (6) owned it for another two years but ultimately traded it to a Michigan dealer for a trade-in value of $170,000, (7) where it now sits for sale at the price of $255,000. Defendants assert that the plaintiff does not have supporting evidence of viable legal claims and that the plaintiff unjustifiably attempts to hold the manufacturer and seller of the used motor home liable for normal wear and tear repair costs it allegedly paid over the two-year period of ownership. Further, defendants move for the various claims to be dismissed based upon statute of limitation grounds.

On May 5, 2005, the plaintiff instituted this lawsuit against CCI and Buddy Gregg in this District Court.*fn3 The plaintiff's amended complaint*fn4 alleges several theories of liability against the defendants: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of express warranty; (3) breach of implied warranty of merchantability; (4) violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"), Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-104 and 109; and (5) breach of warranty pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §2310.

II. Motion for Summary Judgment Standard

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment will be granted by a court only when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The burden is on the moving party to conclusively show that no genuine issue of material fact exists. A court must view the facts and all inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); ...


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