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Ingram v. Oasis Investments, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

December 19, 2017

JASON INGRAM, et al., PLAINTIFFS
v.
OASIS INVESTMENTS, LLC, et al., DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants LeeCor Systems, LLC and Steven Medlin's partial motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement. [DN 14.] Plaintiffs Jason and Dilenia Ingram responded, [DN 33], and Defendants replied, [DN 27.] Fully briefed, this matter is now ripe for decision. For the reasons discussed herein, Defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Additionally, Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiffs' response as untimely filed, [DN 38], is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts, as set out in the Ingrams' complaint and taken as true, are as follows. Plaintiffs Jason and Dilenia Ingram own real property on Mr. Ingram's family's farm in Graves County, Kentucky. [DN 1 at 5.] In early 2015, the Ingrams decided to construct a house on this property. At a trade show in St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Ingram met Defendants Steve Medlin, Robert Davis, Nathan Verning, and an unknown architect employed by Oasis Investments, LLC. [Id. at 5.] The Ingrams informed them of their plans to build a house on their land and discussed the products and services the men were promoting as representatives of Defendants Premium Steel Building Systems, Inc., LeeCor Systems, LLC, and Oasis Investments, LLC. [Id.]

         On or around April 23, 2015, Verning, an employee of Oasis, sent the Ingrams a document titled “Proposal/Contract.” [DN 1-1 at 1-4.] The document detailed the “scope of work to be completed” and provided a total quote of $270, 000.00. [Id.] According to the Ingrams, they accepted Oasis's proposal and quote, and that document “became the written contract at issue in this Complaint.” [DN 1 at 8.] Oasis began construction in September 2015. [Id. at 20.]

         During the construction project, the Ingrams also obtained services from LeeCor Systems, LLC (“LeeCor”) and Steve Medlin, an employee of LeeCor. [Id. at 9-10.] The Ingrams allege that, during the time they worked with LeeCor and Medlin, they were “in the business of marketing and selling residential steel frame and prefabricated foam panel construction materials that are designed, manufactured, packaged and/or marketed by Defendant Premium Steel Building Systems, Inc.” [Id. at 10.] “LeeCor and Medlin hold themselves out as having experience and expertise in selecting and/or recommending certain products for inclusion in a new home build, such as, but not limited to, steel framing and prefabricated foam walls” manufactured by Premium. [Id. at 11.]

         Ultimately, the construction went awry. Specifically, the Ingrams assert that “[a] number of problems have emerged, and are emerging, with the work completed by, or under the supervision of, ” Defendants. [Id. at 26.] These include, for example, “[n]oise and movement in the subflooring/steel structure, ” “[b]uckling of the roof decking, ” “[w]ater infiltration around the windows and doors and due to a lack of a vapor barrier at the basement level, ” “[a]ir infiltration through and/or around the wall panels, ” “windows installed crooked, floors that noticeably slope, walls that are not the same height, walls that are not plumb, damaged windows, ” and “[o]mitted materials and skipped steps in the framing process.” [Id. at 26-27.]

         According to the Ingrams, many of the representations in the Proposal/Contract document (“the Contract”) between them and Oasis ultimately proved to be false and/or misleading. [Id. at 8-9.] The Ingrams assert that, “[i]n late May or mid-Summer 2016, Oasis Construction left the jobsite, refusing to return; and, to date, it has not completed all work required of it under the contract.” [Id. at 21.] “To date, the Ingrams have paid Oasis Construction approximately $248, 000 for work done, purportedly done, or to be done on the new home build.” [Id.] Additionally, the Ingrams allege that the structural system recommended to them by LeeCor and Medlin was improper for the construction of their home and could not be installed so as to comply with applicable building codes. They also allege that Medlin made various other misrepresentations, such as advising then that a vapor barrier was unnecessary when, in fact, the opposite was true.

         On December 30, 2016, the Ingrams brought suit in this Court against several Defendants: Oasis Investments, LLC; Nathan K. Verning; LeeCor Systems, LLC; Steven Medlin; Robert Davis; and Premium Steel Building Systems, Inc. [Id. at 1.] The Ingrams bring claims of breach of contract; negligent construction; negligent hiring, training, retention, and supervision; negligent provision of professional services; fraud; negligent misrepresentation; violations of building codes under KRS § 198B.130; building professional liability under KRS § 411.256; and failure to warn. In the instant motion, two Defendants, LeeCor and Medlin, move to dismiss certain of these claims or, alternatively, for a more definite statement. [DN 14.]

         STANDARD

         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)(2). In order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a party must “plead enough ‘factual matter' to raise a ‘plausible' inference of wrongdoing.” 16630 Southfield Ltd. P'ship v. Flagstar Bank, F.S.B., 727 F.3d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A claim becomes plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must presume all of the factual allegations in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Great Lakes Steel v. Deggendorf, 716 F.2d 1101, 1105 (6th Cir. 1983)). “The court need not, however, accept unwarranted factual inferences.” Id. (citing Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987)). Should the well-pleaded facts support no “more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” then dismissal is warranted. Iqbal, 556 U.S at 679. The Court may grant a motion to dismiss “only if, after drawing all reasonable inferences from the allegations in the complaint in favor of the plaintiff, the complaint still fails to allege a plausible theory of relief.” Garceau v. City of Flint, 572 F. App'x. 369, 371 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-79).

         DISCUSSION

         In their motion, LeeCor and Medlin request that the Court dismiss Counts I, III, V, and X of the Ingrams' complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6). [DN 14 at 2.] Alternatively, LeeCor and Medlin request that the Court “require plaintiffs to plead more specifically their claims against these defendants so that defendants can prepare their Answers and/or otherwise prepare for trial under Rule 12(e).” [Id.] The Court will address Defendants' alternative motions in turn.

         A. Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can be Granted

         LeeCor and Medlin first request that the Court dismiss Counts I, III, V, and X of the Ingrams' complaint under Rule 12(b)(6).

         1. Count One: Breach of Contract

         In count one of their complaint, the Ingrams bring a claim for breach of contract against, among other Defendants, LeeCor and Medlin. [DN 1 at 36-37.] Specifically, the Ingrams allege that “LeeCor, Medlin and/or Premium have breached the written warranty as to the structural system, as well as implied warranties of fitness and workmanlike performance.” [Id. at 37.] It appears that the Ingrams reference three different types of warranties in their complaint which they allege were breached. The Court will address each in turn.

         a. Written Warranty

         Though the Ingrams allege that LeeCor and Medlin breached a written warranty as to the structural system used in the construction of their home, they have pointed to no such written warranty issued to them by LeeCor or Medlin. They have, however, identified a warranty issued to them by Premium, which the Ingrams attached as an exhibit to their complaint. That document is printed on “Premium Steel Building Systems Incorporated” letterhead and titled “WARRANTY.” [DN 1-3.] It reads:

We herby (sic) warrant that the structural framing materials supplied by us which have been installed by others at Ingram Residence referenced above was designed and shop fabricated in strict accordance with the drawings and specifications. We agree to repair or replace or cause to be repaired or replaced any or all of the materials which may prove defective within a pe1iod of one (1) year from substantial completion (January 30, 201 6). Ordinary wear and tear and unusual abuse or neglect are excluded from this warranty.

[Id.] The Warranty was signed by Premium representatives and dated April 8, 2016. [Id.] The Ingrams do not dispute that Premium designs, manufactures, and markets the residential steel frame and prefabricated foam panel construction materials that were used in the construction of their home. [See, e.g., DN 1 at 10.] Accordingly, the fact that Premium provided a written warranty to the Ingrams for those materials follows logically. However, because the Ingrams identify no such written warranty issued by LeeCor or Medlin for the same materials, and make no factual allegations that one existed, the Court agrees that the Ingrams have failed to state a claim for breach of written warranty as to those two Defendants.

         b. Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose

         The Ingrams also mention “implied warranties of fitness” in their breach of contract claim. [Id. at 37.] In detail, they state that “LeeCor, Medlin and/or Premium have breached . . . implied warranties of fitness and workmanlike performance.” [Id.] Section 355.2-315 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes provides for implied warranties for fitness for a ...


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