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Progressive Northern Insurance Co. of Illinois v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 21, 2017

PROGRESSIVE NORTHERN INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLINOIS as subrogee of DANIEL VANDERIET, Plaintiff,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment as to Count I (Doc. 44) and the Motion to Dismiss Counts II and III (Doc. 48) filed by Defendant Ford Motor Co. (“Ford”). For the reasons set forth below, the motions are granted.

         Background

         This dispute arises from an incident that occurred around midnight on October 7, 2014, in which a 2002 Ford F-150 owned by Daniel Vanderiet caught fire while parked outside Vanderiet's mobile home in Shiloh, Illinois (Doc. 44-2, p. 7-13). The fire, which began in the engine compartment of the truck, allegedly was caused by a defective speed control deactivation switch and defects in the vehicle's electrical and mechanical systems (Doc. 44-2, p. 17; Doc. 53, p. 1). The fire resulted in the loss of the truck, as well as damage to Vanderiet's mobile home (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 9; Doc. 44-2, p. 8-9). Vanderiet had purchased the Ford F-150 new from Jack Schmidt Ford in Collinsville, Illinois, in 2002 (Doc. 42-2, p. 14), and he maintained a comprehensive policy of insurance on the vehicle with Plaintiff Progressive Northern Insurance Company of Illinois (“Progressive”). Progressive paid Vanderiet $118, 751.67 in settlement of his property damage claim (Doc. 1, p. 6-7).

         In consideration of this payment, Progressive avers it is subrogated to all the claims Vanderiet may have against any party responsible for the fire and the resulting loss of his truck and damages to his mobile home (Doc. 1, p. 7). On April 22, 2016, Progressive commenced this subrogation action by filing a three-count complaint against Ford in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois (Doc. 1, p. 1). The complaint asserts claims of breach of implied warranty of merchantability (Count I), strict liability (Count II), and negligence (Count III) (Doc. 1, p. 8-10). The action was removed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois based on complete diversity of citizenship and was subsequently transferred to this District (Doc. 1, p. 1). Progressive seeks to recover the $118, 751.67 it paid Vanderiet plus costs.

         On December 23, 2016, Ford filed a Motion for Summary Judgment as to Count I (Doc. 44), arguing that Progressive's breach of implied warranty of merchantability claim is barred by the applicable Illinois statute of limitations (Doc. 44, p. 1). Ford also filed a Motion to Dismiss Counts II and III under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Doc. 48), asserting that Progressive's strict liability and negligence claims are barred by the economic loss doctrine. On January 25, 2017, Progressive filed a response to Ford's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 53). Progressive did not respond to Ford's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Count I.

         Analysis

         I. Ford's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Count I-Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability

         The Court first addresses the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Ford, which argues that Count I of the complaint is time barred by Illinois' four-year statute of limitations for claims of breach of implied warranty of merchantability.

         The standard applied to summary judgment motions filed under Rule 56 is well-settled and has been succinctly stated as follows:

Summary judgment is proper when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, [the court] must view the record in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Because the primary purpose of summary judgment is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims, the nonmovant may not rest on the pleadings but must respond, with affidavits or otherwise, setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. The evidence must create more than some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. A mere scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmovant's position is insufficient; a party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only when it presents definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion.

Albiero v. City of Kankakee, 246 F.3d 927, 931-32 (7th Cir. 2001).

         Where a claim or defense is factually unsupported, it should be disposed of on summary judgment. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Furthermore, Rule 56(e) states that if a party fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see also SDIL Local Rule 7.1 (c) (“Failure to timely file a response to a motion may, in the Court's discretion, be considered an admission of the merits of the motion.”). Because Progressive did not respond to Ford's motion for summary judgment, the Court considers the facts as presented by Ford to be undisputed for the purposes of this motion.

         In Count I, Progressive alleges Ford breached its duty under the Illinois Uniform Commercial Code, 810 ILCS 5/2-314 (2016), which provides “a warranty that the goods shall be merchantable is implied in a contract for their sale if the seller is a merchant with respect to goods of that kind.” Specifically, Progressive claims that the subject truck was not merchantable and not fit for the ordinary purposes for which a truck is used because “it had ...


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