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Crabtree v. Hope's Windows Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 30, 2018

ROBERT E. CRABTREE, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
HOPE'S WINDOWS, INC., BRIGHT WINDOW SPECIALISTS, INC., and RICHARD KUSYK, Defendants.

          RULING AND ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Robert E. Crabtree, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), has sued Hope's Windows, Inc. (“Hope's Windows”) and Bright Window Specialists, Inc. (“Bright”) and Richard Kusyk (“Defendant”) (collectively the “Bright Defendants”) for breach of Article 2 of Connecticut's Uniform Commercial Code, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42a-2-101, et seq., breach of contract, breach of implied warranty, revocation of acceptance, conversion, and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUPTA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42a-110a et seq.

         The Bright Defendants move to dismiss the case and also move for sanctions under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Mr. Crabtree moves to amend the First Amended Complaint under Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and for a default judgment against Hope's Windows under Rule 55.

         Hope's Windows, after oral argument had already been heard on the Bright Defendants' motion to dismiss, now moves to dismiss the lawsuit against it.

         For the reasons that follow, the Bright Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Mr. Crabtree's claims under Conn. Gen. Stat § 42a-2-101 et seq. and for breach of contract, breach of implied warranty, and revocation and acceptance are all DISMISSED. The Court, however, lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the remainder of Mr. Crabtree's claims against the Bright Defendants and REMANDS them to Connecticut Superior Court. The Bright Defendant's motion for sanctions is DENIED.

         Mr. Crabtree's motion to amend the First Amended Complaint and for default judgment are both DENIED.

         Hope's Windows' motion to dismiss is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Mr. Crabtree owns the property located at 918 North Street in Greenwich, Connecticut (“the Property”). First Am. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 19. Hope's Windows, Inc. (“Hope's Windows ”) manufactures custom windows, doors, and other architectural products. Id. ¶ 4.[1] Their windows allegedly come with a lifetime warranty from manufacturer defects. Id. ¶ 5.[2] Bright Windows Specialists, Inc. (“Bright”) is allegedly Hope's Windows's sole regional sales representative for Greenwich, Connecticut, and Mr. Kusyk is Bright's owner. Id. ¶ 3.[3] This dispute arose when windows that Bright installed in Mr. Crabtree's home allegedly began to crack spontaneously after installation.

         A. Factual Allegations

         Mr. Crabtree bought windows and doors from Hope's Windows through the Bright Defendants in December 2005. First Am. Compl. ¶ 6. Mr. Crabtree paid Bright, by and through his general contractor, approximately $1, 000, 000 to install the windows and doors. Id. ¶ 7. In 2007, ninety-five percent of the windows and doors had allegedly been installed, and, by 2008, Mr. Crabtree moved into the home. Id. ¶ 9. In the following months, Mr. Crabtree allegedly discovered that windows and door frames were defective with missing frame pieces, improperly set window sills and doors that rattled, and hardware missing or improperly installed. Id. At the time, the Amended Complaint alleges that Mr. Crabtree had no knowledge of defects in the glass itself. Id.

         In a complaint filed in Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of Stamford/Norwalk at Stamford on February 3, 2010, Mr. Crabtree sued Defendants regarding the windows and doors they installed at the Property. See generally Feb. 3, 2010, Compl. ¶ 10, Bright's Br., Ex. B, ECF No. 20 at 18. That complaint included four causes of action, alleging (1) products liability; (2) breach of implied warranty; (3) revocation of acceptance; and (4) a violation of the CUTPA. See generally Feb. 3, 2010, Compl. With respect to the first cause of action, the complaint alleges that Bright installed windows and doors from Hope's Windows that were “negligently and defectively manufactured.” Id. ¶ 10; accord Id. ¶ 12 (“Defendant Hope's breached its duty by negligently and defectively manufacturing the Goods which are inferior and unusable for their intended purpose.”).

         Mr. Crabtree, Hope's Windows, and the Bright Defendants settled that case. See generally Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”), Bright Br., Ex. C, ECF No. 20 at 28. The agreement provides: “In full and final satisfaction of any and all claims that CRABTREE has or may have against HOPE'S and BRIGHT, on or about May 17, 2010, . . . BRIGHT shall perform the remaining ‘punch list' work, . . . and any additional replacement of materials or repairs that HOPE'S and CRABTREE agree may be required to be performed so that the installation of the windows and doors and deemed by HOPE and CRABTREE to be complete in all respects . . . .” Id. § 1(a). The Agreement also provided for a general release, under which Mr. Crabtree “release[d] and forever discharge[d] BRIGHT . . . from all actions, claims and causes of action, including, but not limited to, all claims relating to any work performed by BRIGHT . . . which against BRIGHT . . ., CRABTREE . . . ever had, now have or hereafter can, shall or may, have for, upon or by reason of any matter, cause or thing whatsoever from the beginning of the world to the day of this RELEASE.” May 17, 2010, General Release, Bright Br., Ex. D, ECF No. 20 at 35. Finally, the Agreement also included a merger clause that provides that all agreements between the parties were expressed through the written agreement, and may only be modified by written agreement signed by the parties. Settlement Agreement §§ 6-7.

         In February 2017, the first of five windows at the Property allegedly “spontaneously fractured like an automobile windshield.” First Am. Compl. ¶ 11. The First Amended Complaint asserts that, later that summer, four additional windows “spontaneously burst in the same manner.” Id. These windows were allegedly purchased and installed under the $1, 000, 000 contract between Mr. Crabtree and Bright that were the subject of the 2010 litigation. Compare Id. ¶ 11 (“The defective windows were purchases and installed under the $1, 000, 000 Contract.”), with Feb. 3, 2010, Compl. ¶ 6 (“By the time the doors and windows were installed, the contract price had increased to almost $1, 000, 000.”). The First Amended Complaint asserts that the cause of the fractures was a manufacturing defect. Compare Compl. ¶ 21 (“Bright installed Hope's windows and doors in the Premises[, ] however[, ] the windows and doors [] were negligently and defectively manufactured and spontaneously fracture.”), with Feb. 3, 2010, Compl. ¶ 12 (“Hope's breached its duty by defectively manufacturing the Goods which are inferior and unusable for their intended purpose.”).

         Mr. Crabtree allegedly contacted Mr. Kusyk and Hope's Windows to request that Defendants replace the defective windows and doors, which Mr. Kusyk's allegedly had stated would “last a lifetime.” Id. ¶ 13. The Complaint asserts that, knowing that Mr. Crabtree had no other option than to deal with Bright, Mr. Kusyk agreed to inspect the defective windows only after Mr. Crabtree paid a “down payment fee” in the sum of $1, 500, which Mr. Crabtree paid. Id. After inspecting the windows, Mr. Kusyk allegedly said he could replace the windows for a minimum of $3, 500 per window. Id. Mr. Crabtree declined and, despite Mr. Crabtree's demand, Mr. Kusyk refused to return to Mr. Crabtree the $1, 500 “deposit” for the windows. Id. ¶ 15.

         B. Procedural History

         On September 26, 2017, Mr. Crabtree sued Defendants in Connecticut Superior Court at the Judicial District of Stamford/Norwalk at Stamford. ECF No. 1-2. The Bright Defendants subsequently removed the case to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1445. ECF No. 1. The Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         On January 16, 2017, Mr. Crabtree amended the Complaint. ECF No. 19. The First Amended Complaint remains operative. The First Amended Complaint asserts six causes of action: (1) a violation arising out of Article 2 of Connecticut's Uniform Commercial Code, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42a-2-101, et seq.; (2) breach of contract; (3) breach of implied warranty;[4] (4) revocation of acceptance; (5) conversion;[5] and (6) violation of the CUTPA, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110a et seq.

         The Bright Defendants now move to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF No. 20. The Bright Defendants also move for sanctions under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 31.

         On March 1, 2018, Mr. Crabtree moved for entry of default judgment against Hope's Windows and also now moves to amend the First Amended Complaint. ECF No. 29.

         The Court heard oral argument on April 12, 2018, and Hope's Windows did not appear. ECF No. 33.

         On April 13, 2018, Hope's Windows moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. ECF No. 35.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         District courts have “original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interests and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant . . . to the district court of the United States for the district . . . embracing the place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). CASE CITATION.

         However, “[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Cohen v. Postal Holdings, LLC, 873 F.3d 394, 399 (2d Cir. 2017) (“[W]hen a district court correctly dismisses all federal claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction . . . the district court is thereby precluded from exercising supplemental jurisdiction over related state-law claims.”).

         B. Motion to Dismiss

         A complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Any claim that fails “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted” will be dismissed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), a court applies a “plausibility standard” guided by “two working principles.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         First, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.; see also Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (“While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” (internal citations omitted)). Second, “only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Thus, the complaint must contain “factual amplification . . . to render a claim plausible.” Arista Records LLC v. Doe 3, 604 F.3d 110, 120 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Turkmen v. Ashcroft, 589 F.3d 542, 546 (2d Cir. 2009)).

         When reviewing a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must take the factual allegations in the complaint as true, Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678, and view the inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Cohen v. S.A.C. Trading Corp., 711 F.3d 353, 359 (2d Cir. 2013); see also York v. Ass'n of the Bar of the City of New York, 286 F.3d 122, 125 (2d Cir. 2002) (“On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, we construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting the complaint's allegations as true.”).

         A court considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) generally limit its review “to the facts as asserted within the four corners of the complaint, the documents attached to the complaint as exhibits, and any documents incorporated in the complaint by reference.” McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2007). A court may also consider “matters of which judicial notice may be taken” and “documents either in plaintiffs' possession or of which plaintiffs had knowledge and relied on in bringing suit.” Brass v. Am. Film Techs., Inc., 987 F.2d 142, 150 (2d Cir. 1993); Patrowicz v. Transamerica HomeFirst, Inc., 359 F.Supp.2d 140, 144 (D. Conn. 2005).

         C. ...


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