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One Belle Hall Property Owners Association, Inc. v. Trammell Crow Residential Co.

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

June 1, 2016

One Belle Hall Property Owners Association, Inc. and Brandy Ramey, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Respondents,
v.
Trammell Crow Residential Company; TCR NC Construction I, LP; Belle Hall Direct 101, LP; TCR RLD Condominiums, Inc.; CS 101 Belle Hall, LP; TCR Southeast, Inc.; TCR Carolina Properties, Inc.; TCR SE Construction, Inc.; TCR SE Construction II, Inc.; TCR Construction, a division of Trammell Crow Residential; TCR Development, a division of Trammell Crow Residential; Trammell Crow Residential Carolina, a division of Trammell Crow Residential; and Tauer Consulting Company, Inc., a division of Trammell Crow Residential, each individually and collectively d/b/a "Trammell Crow Residential, " "Trammell Crow" or "TCR"; Halter Properties, LLC; Halter Realty, LLC; and Halter Realty Group, LLC, each individually, and collectively d/b/a/ "Halter Companies"; Jane Doe 1-5; ABG Caulking & Waterproofing of Morristown, Inc. a/k/a ABG Caulking Contractors; Advanced Building Products & Services, LLC; BASF Corporation; Budget Mechanical Plumbing, Inc.; Builders First Source-Southeast Group, LLC; Builders Services Group, Inc., individually, and d/b/a Gale Contractor Services, Inc.; Century Fire Protection, LLC; Cline Design Association, P.A. and Gary D. Cline; Coastal Lumber & Framing, LLC; Dodson Brothers Exterminating Co., Inc. a/k/a Dodson Pest Control; First Exteriors, LLC; Flooring Services, Inc.; General Heating & Air Conditioning Company of Greenville, Inc. d/b/a General Heating and Air; Jimmy Warner, individually, and d/b/a Warner Heating & Air; Glazing Consultants, Inc.; GWC Roofing, Inc., individually, and d/b/a Southcoast Exteriors, Inc.; Houston Stafford Electrical Contractors, LP a/k/a IES Residential, Inc. d/b/a Houston Stafford Electric; KMAC of the Carolinas, Inc.; P&P Metal Sales Co., Inc. a/k/a P&P Metal Sales, LLC a/k/a P&P Metal Sales, Inc. a/k/a Carolina Metals; Pleasant Places, Inc.; Raymond Building Supply Corporation d/b/a Energy Saving Products of Florida, Inc. a/k/a Energy Saving Products of Florida; RS Custom Homes, LLC; Southern Specialties, Inc.; Structural Contractors South, Inc.; Superior Construction Services, Inc., individually, and d/b/a Superior Masonry Unlimited, Inc.; TAMKO Building Products, Inc. f/k/a TAMKO Roofing Products, Inc.; VNS Corporation, individually, and d/b/a Wholesale Building Products f/k/a Wholesale Building Materials, Inc.; What Don't We Do; and John Doe 1-25, Defendants, Of whom TAMKO Building Products, Inc., is the Appellant. VNS Corp., individually, and d/b/a Wholesale Building Products f/k/a Wholesale Building Materials, Inc., Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
Billy Grady d/b/a United Builders, LLC, Third-Party Defendant,
v.
Houston Stafford Electrical Contractors, LP a/k/a IES Residential, Inc. d/b/a Houston Stafford Electric, Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
J. Correa Electrical Company, LLC, Third-Party Defendant. Appellate Case No. 2014-002115

          Heard May 4, 2016

          Withdrawn, Substituted and Refiled September 28, 2016

         Appeal From Charleston County J.C. Nicholson, Jr., Circuit Court Judge

          Richard Hood Willis, Paula Miles Burlison, and Angela Gilbert Strickland, all of Bowman & Brooke, LLP, of Columbia, for Appellant.

          Justin OToole Lucey and Dabny Lynn, both of Justin O'Toole Lucey, P.A., of Mount Pleasant, for Respondents.

          WILLIAMS, J.:

         In this civil matter, Tamko Building Products, Inc. (Tamko) appeals the circuit court's denial of its motion to dismiss One Belle Hall Property Owners Association, Inc. (the Association) and Brandy Ramey's (collectively "Respondents") claims and compel them to arbitration. Tamko argues the court erred in finding the arbitration agreement located in its limited warranty was unconscionable and unenforceable. We reverse.

         FACTS/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This appeal arises from a dispute over the construction of One Belle Hall (OBH), an upscale condominium community in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. The Association is responsible for the management and administration of the OBH community as well as the investigation, maintenance, and repair of its common elements. Headquartered in Joplin, Missouri, Tamko manufactures and sells residential and commercial roof shingles nationally and internationally.

          During the construction of OBH, and prior to the transfer of ownership from its developers to the Association, a roofing subcontractor installed Tamko's "Elite Glass-Seal AR" asphalt shingles to the roofs of the condominium community's four buildings. Tamko covered the installed shingles with a twenty-five-year "repair or replace" limited warranty (Warranty) against manufacturing defects. At issue in this case is a binding arbitration provision on page five of the Warranty information that provided the following:

MANDATORY BINDING ARBITRATION: EVERY CLAIM, CONTROVERSY, OR DISPUTE OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER INCLUDING WHETHER ANY PARTICULAR MATTER IS SUBJECT TO ARBITRATION (EACH AN "ACTION") BETWEEN YOU AND TAMKO (INCLUDING ANY OF TAMKO'S EMPLOYEES AND AGENTS) RELATING TO OR ARISING OUT OF THE SHINGLES OR THIS LIMITED WARRANTY SHALL BE RESOLVED BY FINAL AND BINDING ARBITRATION, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ACTION SOUNDS IN WARRANTY, CONTRACT, STATUTE OR ANY OTHER LEGAL OR EQUITABLE THEORY. TO ARBITRATE AN ACTION AGAINST TAMKO, YOU MUST INITIATE THE ARBITRATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE APPLICABLE RULES OF ARBITRATION OF THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION (WHICH ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT www.adr.com OR BY CALLING THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION AT 1-800-778-7879) AND PROVIDE WRITTEN NOTICE TO TAMKO BY CERTIFIED MAIL AT P.O. BOX 1404, JOPLIN, MISSOURI 64802 WITHIN THE TIME PERIOD PRESCRIBED IMMEDIATELY BELOW.
Legal Remedies: EXCEPT WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW, THE OBLIGATION CONTAINED IN THIS LIMITED WARRANTY IS EXPRESSLY IN LIEU OF ANY OTHER OBLIGATIONS, GUARANTIES, WARRANTIES, AND CONDITIONS EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND OF ANY OTHER OBLIGATIONS OR LIABILITY ON THE PART OF TAMKO BUILDING PRODUCTS, INC. IN NO EVENT SHALL TAMKO BE LIABLE FOR CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND. SOME STATES DO NOT ALLOW EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, SO THE ABOVE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSIONS MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. NO ACTION FOR BREACH OF THIS LIMITED WARRANTY OR ANY OTHER ACTION AGAINST TAMKO RELATING TO OR ARISING OUT OF THE SHINGLES, THEIR PURCHASE OR THIS TRANSACTION SHALL BE BROUGHT LATER THAN ONE YEAR AFTER ANY CAUSE OF ACTION HAS ACCRUED. IN JURISDICTIONS WHERE STATUTORY CLAIMS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS CANNOT BE EXCLUDED, ALL SUCH STATUTORY CLAIMS, IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS AND ALL RIGHTS TO BRING ACTIONS FOR BREACH THEREOF EXPIRE ONE YEAR (OR SUCH LONGER PERIOD OF TIME IF MANDATED BY APPLICABLE LAWS) AFTER THE DATE OF PURCHASE. SOME STATES AND PROVINCES DO NOT ALLOW LIMITATIONS ON HOW LONG AN IMPLIED WARRANTY OR CONDITION LASTS, SO THE ABOVE LIMITATION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. THIS LIMITED WARRANTY GIVES YOU SPECIFIC LEGAL RIGHTS AND YOU MAY ALSO HAVE OTHER RIGHTS WHICH VARY FROM STATE TO STATE AND PROVINCE TO PROVINCE. Invalidity or unenforceability of any provision herein shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision which shall remain in full force and effect.
ANY ACTION BROUGHT BY YOU AGAINST TAMKO WILL BE ARBITRATED (OR, IF ARBITRATION OF THE ACTION IS NOT PERMITTED BY LAW, LITIGATED) INDIVIDUALLY AND YOU WILL NOT CONSOLIDATE, OR SEEK CLASS TREATMENT FOR, ANY ACTION UNLESS PREVIOUSLY AGREED TO IN WRITING BY BOTH TAMKO AND YOU.
NO REPRESENTATIVE, EMPLOYEE OR OTHER AGENT OF TAMKO, OR ANY PERSON OTHER THAN TAMKO'S PRESIDENT, HAS AUTHORITY TO ASSUME FOR TAMKO ANY ADDITIONAL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY IN ...

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