United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
Kenneth E. Godawa and Patricia A. Godawa, Plaintiffs,
Dixie Camper Sales of S.C., Inc., EverGreen Recreational Vehicles, LLC, and Lippert Components Manufacturing, Inc., Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
M. Herlong, Jr., Senior United States District Judge
matter is before the court on Defendant Lippert Components
Manufacturing, Inc.’s (“Lippert") motion to
dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment,
and Plaintiffs Kenneth E. Godawa and Patricia A.
Godawa’s (collectively, “the Godawas")
motion to remand. After a thorough review, the court denies
the Godawas’ motion to remand and grants
Lippert’s motion to dismiss.
Factual and Procedural Background
case arises out of an allegedly defective travel trailer
purchased by the Godawas from Defendant Dixie Camper Sales of
S.C., Inc. (“Dixie") on or about May 25, 2012.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 1-1.) The Godawas allege that
Defendant Evergreen Recreational Vehicles, LLC
(“EverGreen") manufactured the travel trailer, and
that Lippert designed, manufactured, and supplied a
malfunctioning component of the travel trailer. (Id.
¶¶ 9, 24, ECF No. 1-1.) The alleged defective
component is the slide mechanism, responsible for expanding
the travel trailer for additional living quarters.
(Id. ¶ 9, ECF No. 1-1; Pl. Mem. Opp’n
Mot. Dismiss 2, ECF No. 13.) While the Godawas plead six
causes of action against the Defendants collectively, the
four specific causes of action against Lippert are: (1)
breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, in
violation of S.C. Code Ann. § 36-2-314; (2) breach of
the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, in
violation of S.C. Code Ann. § 36-2-315; (3) a violation
of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA"),
pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq.; and (4)
negligence. (Am. Compl., generally, ECF No. 1-1.)
Godawas filed their first amended complaint on March 9, 2016,
in the Greenville County, South Carolina, Court of Common
Pleas. (Id., ECF No. 1-1.) This action was removed
by Lippert on April 8, 2016. (Not. Rem. Ex. 1 (Am. Compl.),
ECF No. 1-1.) On April 15, 2016, Lippert filed the instant
motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for summary
judgment. (Def. Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 8.) On April 22, 2016,
the Godawas filed the instant motion to remand. (Pl. Mot.
Remand, ECF No. 11.) The Godawas responded in opposition to
the motion to dismiss on April 29, 2016. (Pl. Resp.
Opp’n Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 13.) On May 9, 2016,
Lippert replied. (Def. Reply Supp. Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 15.)
Lippert also responded in opposition to the motion to remand
on May 20, 2016. (Def. Resp. Opp’n Mot. Remand, ECF No.
21.) This matter is now ripe for consideration.
Discussion of the Law
Motion to Remand
Generally, “[a] defendant may remove any action from a
state court to a federal court if the action could have
originally been brought in federal court." Yarnevic
v. Brink’s, Inc., 102 F.3d 753, 754 (4th Cir.
1996) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1441). The MMWA creates a
federal private cause of action under certain circumstances.
See 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)(1). A non-class action
claim under the MMWA may be brought in federal court if the
amount in controversy is at least “$50, 000 (exclusive
of interests and costs) computed on the basis of all claims
to be determined in [the] suit." 15 U.S.C. §
2310(d)(3). “The burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction is placed upon the party seeking removal."
Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d
148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994). The Fourth Circuit has declined to
adopt a precise standard on a motion to remand for
determining the value of unspecified damages claims. Rota
v. Consol. Coal Co., No. 98-1807, 1999 WL 183873, at *1
n.4 (4th Cir. Apr. 5, 1999) (unpublished).
critical inquiry on the instant motion to remand is whether
the amount in controversy threshold has been
The Godawas allege they have sustained or will sustain the
(a) the travel trailer has been rendered unusable and
substantially impaired its value to Plaintiffs and as a whole
[sic]; (b) Plaintiffs have lost the value of the trailer and
it has essentially been rendered a total loss as well as loss
of use of the camper; (c) Plaintiffs have lost camping
deposits; (d) Plaintiffs have incurred out of pocket
expenses; (e) Attorneys fees and costs allowed by statute;
and (f) in such other and further ways as discovery and trial
(Am. Compl. ¶¶ 25, 45, ECF No. 1-1.) The Godawas
listed only one specific damages amount in the complaint,
$44, 759.00, which is the total purchase price of the travel
trailer that the Godawas are seeking to fully recover.
(Id. ¶ 6, ECF No. 1-1; Pl. Mot. Remand ¶
6, ECF No.11.) However, the Godawas further allege damages
for the lost use of their travel trailer for a three-year
period, (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 6-23, ECF No. 1-1), and
out-of-pocket expenses including: (1) four alleged repair
attempts (Id. ¶¶ 8-10, 14, 17, 21, ECF No.
1-1); “mileage going to and from EverGreen for
repairs" and to and from Concord, North Carolina for
repairs (Id. ¶¶ 21, 54, ECF No. 1-1); and
expenses occurred while stranded at a campground in Myrtle
Beach, South Carolina, including engaging a repair team
(Id. ¶ 20, ECF No. 1-1). The court finds that
Lippert has established its burden of showing that the
Godawas have a claim exceeding the amount in controversy
threshold under the MMWA. Based on the foregoing, the court
denies the Godawa’s motion to remand. The court now
turns to Lippert’s motion to dismiss.
Motion to Dismiss
to Rule 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a cause of
action if the opposing party fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When
presented with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court
must restrict its inquiry to the sufficiency of the complaint
rather than “resolve contests surrounding the facts,
the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses." Republican Party of North Carolina v.
Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). In order to
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Breach of ...