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Capps v. Adams Wholesale Co. Inc.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

May 21, 2015

ROBERT RANDALL CAPPS, et al.
v.
ADAMS WHOLESALE CO., INC., et al.

Session April 14, 2015.

Appeal from the Chancery Court for Greene County No. 20100106 Hon. Thomas J. Wright, Judge[1]

Darryl Lowe, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, TAMKO Building Products, Inc.

Thomas C. Jessee, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellees, Robert Randall Capps and Carolyn Brown Capps.

John W. McClarty, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which D. Michael Swiney and Brandon O. Gibson, JJ., joined.

OPINION

JOHN W. McCLARTY, JUDGE.

I. BACKGROUND

In August 2006, Robert Randall Capps and Carolyn Brown Capps (collectively "Plaintiffs") purchased decking material ("the product") from Greeneville Builders Supply. The product was manufactured by TAMKO Building Products ("Defendant"), distributed through Dealer's Warehouse Corporation, and installed by Todd Brown. Plaintiffs were advised that the product came with a lifetime warranty but were not given any documentation of the warranty prior to the purchase. Instead, each bundle of the product and each individual board contained the following notice:

This product is covered by a TAMKO limited warranty. All other warranties are expressly excluded. You may obtain a copy of the limited warranty from your dealer, by calling 800-641-4691, or from our web site: tamko.com.

On the second page of the limited warranty, under the heading "LEGAL REMEDIES, " the following notice was provided:

MANDATORY BINDING ARBITRATION: EVERY CLAIM, CONTROVERSY, OR DISPUTE OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER INCLUDING WHETHER ANY PARTICULAR MATTER IS SUBJECT TO ARBITRATION (EACH AN "ACTION") BETWEEN YOU AND TAMKO (INCLUDING ANY OF TAMKO'S EMPLOYEES AND AGENTS) RELATING TO OR ARISING OUT OF THE PRODUCTS SHALL BE RESOLVED BY FINAL AND BINDING ARBITRATION, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ACTION SOUNDS IN WARRANTY, CONTRACT, STATUTE OR ANY OTHER LEGAL OR EQUITABLE THEORY. TO ARBITRATE AN ACTION AGAINST TAMKO, YOU MUST INITIATE THE ARBITRATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE APPLICABLE RULES OF ARBITRATION OF THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION . . . AND PROVIDE WRITTEN NOTICE TO TAMKO . . . WITHIN THE TIME PERIOD PRESCRIBED BELOW.

In April 2007, Plaintiffs advised Defendant that the product was defective and formally requested replacement of the product pursuant to the warranty. Defendant advised Plaintiffs, by letter dated April 11, 2007, that the product was free of warranted defects and "appear[ed] to be performing properly." Defendant attached a copy of the limited warranty to the letter denying the claim.

Three years later, Plaintiffs filed suit against Greeneville Builders Supply, Todd Brown, Dealer's Warehouse Corporation, and Defendant. Relative to Defendant, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant had breached its express warranty, the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, and the warranty of merchantability. Plaintiffs asserted that Defendant was negligent in the manufacturing of the product and that Defendant

misrepresented the quality of the materials it used to manufacture the product, misrepresented the maintenance, storage and durability of the product and misrepresented the defects in the product when they were put on notice ...

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