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Great West Casualty Co. v. Volvo Trucks North America

February 13, 2009

GREAT WEST CASUALTY COMPANY, AS SUBROGEE OF CHICAGO LOGISTICS, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VOLVO TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan H. Lefkow

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Volvo Trucks North America ("Volvo") moves to dismiss Count IV of the complaint filed by Great West Casualty ("Great West"), a subrogee of Chicago Logistics, LLC ("Chicago Logistics"). Great West's complaint asserts claims for strict products liability (Count I), negligence (Count II), breach of express warranty (Count III), and breach of the implied warranties of fitness and merchantability (Count IV). Volvo moves to dismiss Count IV pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), arguing that Great West fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted because it effectively disclaimed the implied warranties at issue via the express warranty documents provided at the point of purchase. The parties are completely diverse*fn1 and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000; thus, jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. §1332. For the following reasons, Volvo's motion to dismiss Count IV [#18] will be granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

A defendant may bring a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted. EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F. 3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). For the purposes of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court takes as true all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Jackson v. E.J. Brach Corp., 176 F.3d 971, 977-978 (7th Cir. 1999). In order to survive a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant "fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed. 2d 929 (2007) (internal quotations omitted) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed. 2d 80 (1957)). A plaintiff is obliged to "provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief" which "requires more than labels and conclusions." Id. (internal quotations omitted). In other words, the allegations must be "enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. (citing Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure §1216, at 235-36 (3d ed. 2004)).

BACKGROUND

Great West's claim arises from a fire in a commercial truck which Chicago Logistics, Great West's insured, purchased from Volvo in December 2005. At that time, a representative of Chicago Logistics received two written warranties, a Standard Truck Warranty Certificate ("Truck Warranty") and a purchased Extended Volvo Engine Coverage Certificate ("Engine Warranty"). Receipt of the warranty documents was acknowledged by the representative who signed Volvo's Warranty Registration on January 9, 2006.

The front of the Truck Warranty and the reverse of the Engine Warranty both contain the following disclaimer, set off in boxes and printed in capital letters:

THIS WARRANTY IS EXPRESSLY IN LIEU OF ALL OTHER WARRANTIES AND REPRESENTATIONS OR CONDITIONS, STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Def.'s Mot., Ex. A at 1, 4. In both instances, the type is larger than the surrounding text. The front of the Engine Warranty also contains a provision in capital letters, set off from the surrounding text by a box, directing the reader to: "SEE REVERSE SIDE FOR IMPORTANT LIMITATIONS AND EXCLUSIONS." Id. at 3.

In addition to the disclaimers found in the express warranties, the first paragraph of the Warranty Registration, the authenticity of which Great West does not challenge, states:

This warranty is an agreement between the purchaser and Volvo Trucks North America, Inc., and the selling authorized Volvo Dealer. Warranty protection is an essential part of our offer to sell. We urge every prospective buyer of a Volvo vehicle to carefully read the warranty terms and conditions set forth on the warranty certificate. NO OTHER WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, ARE GIVEN BEYOND THOSE SET FORTH THEREIN.

Id. at 5.

DISCUSSION

I. Whether the Truck and Engine Warranties Submitted with Volvo's Motion to ...


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