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Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance USA, Inc. v. Denham-Blythe Co., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

April 11, 2019

MITSUI SUMITOMO INSURANCE USA, INC. as subrogee of ASAHI BLUEGRASS FORGE CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
DENHAM-BLYTHE COMPANY, INC., et al., Defendants.

          AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph M. Hood Senior U.S. District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Denham-Blythe Company, Inc's (“Denham-Blythe”) Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) [DE 20] and Defendant BlueScope Buildings North America, Inc.'s (“BlueScope”) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [DE 28]. Having considered the matter fully, and being otherwise sufficiently advised, the undersigned will grant Defendant Denham-Blythe's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) [DE 20] and deny Defendant BlueScope's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [DE 28].

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This case arises from a January 31, 2011 design-build contract (“the Contract”) between Asahi Bluegrass Forge Corporation (“Asahi”) and Denham-Blythe for the construction of a 68, 000 square foot manufacturing facility (“the Building”). [DE 20-1, at 2]. “As part of its obligations as general contractor, Denham-Blythe contracted with several Contractors to complete the design and construction process[, ]” including BlueScope, Varco Pruden Buildings (“Varco”) (a division of BlueScope), and Arrow Metals and Coatings, Inc. (“Arrow”). [DE 29, at 2].

         “Denham-Blythe and Asahi utilized AIA Document A141 - 2004 Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Design-Builder, with modifications specific to this job, for the Contract.” [DE 20-1, at 2 (citing [DE 20-2])]. The Contract defines a “Contractor” as follows:

§ A.1.1.4 CONTRACTOR A Contractor is a person or entity, other than the Architect, that has a direct contract with the Design-Builder to perform all or a portion of the construction required in connection with the Work. The term "Contractor" is referred to throughout the Design-Build Documents as if singular in number and means a Contractor or an authorized representative of the Contractor . . . .

[DE 29, at 2-3 (citing [DE 23-1, at 14])]. On March 2, 2012, the roof of the Building was damaged by severe winds and was subsequently repaired by Denham-Blythe. [DE 20-1, at 2]. Again, on March 1, 2017, the roof of the Building sustained damage from severe winds, and Denham-Blythe completed both the temporary repair work and permanent repair work. Id.

         After the roof was damaged on March 1, 2017, Asahi submitted property damages claims to its insurer, Plaintiff Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance USA, Inc. (“Mitsui”). Id. “According to the Complaint, Mitsui Sumitomo made payments to Asahi in response to the claims in the amount of $1, 315, 092.00 under policy PKG3126694 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Policy') with effective dates of October 1, 2016 through October 1, 2017.” Id. (citing [DE 20-3]). On February 22, 2018, Mitsui, as subrogee of Asahi, filed its Complaint [DE 1] against Denham-Blythe, BlueScope, Varco, and Arrow asserting subrogation rights against Defendants for the amounts paid to repair the property damage caused by the 2017 severe winds. [DE 1]. Mitsui's claims against Denham-Blythe include negligence, breach of contract, breach of warranty of workmanlike services, and negligent misrepresentation. Id. Mitsui's allegations against BlueScope and Varco include negligence, negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranty of workmanlike service, and breach of contract and third-party beneficiary. Id. On April 13, 2018, Denham-Blythe filed the present Motion to Dismiss [DE 20], and on February 15, 2019, BlueScope filed the present Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [DE 28] requesting Mitsui's claims against BlueScope and Varco be dismissed. BlueScope's Motion for Judgement on the Pleadings [DE 28] is nearly identical to Denham-Blythe's Motion to Dismiss [DE 20]. The only substantial difference between the two Motions [DE 20; DE 28] is that BlueScope's Motion [DE 28] omitted Denham-Blythe's argument that the claim is barred by the dispute resolution clauses in the contract.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a complaint may be attacked for failure “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A motion to dismiss is properly granted if it is beyond doubt that no set of facts would entitle the petitioner to relief on his claims.” Computer Leasco, Inc. v. NTP, Inc., 194 Fed.Appx. 328, 333 (6th Cir. 2006). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court will presume that all the factual allegations in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency 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.” Total Benefits Planning Agency, 552 F.3d at 434 (citing Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987)).

         “The standard of review for a judgment on the pleadings [pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c)] is the same as that for a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Roger Miller Music, Inc. v. Sony/ATV Publishing, LLC, 477 F.3d 383, 389 (6th Cir. 2007).

         DISCUSSION

         A. DEFENDANT DENHAM-BLYTHE'S MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO RULE 12(B)(6)

         In support of dismissal, Defendant Denham-Blythe argues the following: (1) “Kentucky law recognizes the sacred right to contract;” (2) “[t]he claim is barred by the waiver of subrogation clause contained in the design build contract between Denham-Blythe and Asahi Bluegrass Forge Corporation;” (3) “[t]he insurance policy issued by Plaintiff to Asahi Bluegrass Forge Corporation granted Asahi the right to waive subrogation;” and (4) “[t]he claim is barred by the dispute resolution clauses in the contract.” [DE 20-1, at 1].

         1. KENTUCKY LAW AND THE ...


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