Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hampton Hall, LLC. v. Chapman Coyle Chapman & Associates Architects AIA, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division

July 19, 2018

Hampton Hall, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Chapman Coyle Chapman & Associates Architects AIA, Inc., and Choate Construction Company, Defendants,
v.
Choate Construction Company, Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
ABG Caulking Contractors, Inc., et al, Third-Party Defendants. Southern Roof and Wood Care Corp., Fourth-Party Plaintiff,
v.
Atlantic Best Roofing, Inc., Fourth-Party Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          RICHARD M. GERGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Third-Party Defendant Reel Enterprises, Inc.'s partial motion to dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion.

         I. Background

         Defendant Chapman Coyle Chapman & Associates Architects, AIA was responsible for the design and oversight of the construction of amenity facilities for Plaintiff Hampton Hall LLC, including a golf clubhouse, sports center, and community clubhouse. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at ¶ 3.) Defendant Choate Construction Company ("Choate") was the general contractor. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at ¶ 7.) Plaintiff filed the present action on May 12, 2017, alleging defective construction and asserting claims for breach of contract, negligence, gross negligence, and breach of express and implied warranties. (Dkt. No. 1-1.)

         On February 14, 2018, Choate filed a third-party complaint against several of its subcontractors involved with the construction at issue, including Reel Enterprises, Inc. (Dkt. No. 38.) The third-party complaint asserts claims for negligence, gross negligence, breach of warranty, breach of contract, indemnification, strict products liability, and apportionment of damages against the subcontractors. (Dkt. No. 38.) Reel Enterprises Inc. ("Reel Enterprises") has moved to dismiss the claims of negligence, gross negligence, breach of warranty, breach of contract, strict products liability, and apportionment of damages. Reel Enterprises has not moved to dismiss Choate's claim for indemnification.

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the dismissal of an action if the complaint fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Such a motion tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint and "does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of the claim, or the applicability of defenses.... Our inquiry then is limited to whether the allegations constitute 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (quotation marks and citation omitted). In a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court is obligated to "assume the truth of all facts alleged in the complaint and the existence of any fact that can be proved, consistent with the complaint's allegations." E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). However, while the Court must accept the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, it "need not accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." Id

         To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although the requirement of plausibility does not impose a probability requirement at this stage, the complaint must show more than a "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A complaint has "facial plausibility" where the pleading "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.

         III. Discussion

         A. Claims for Negligence, Gross Negligence, Breach of Warranty, Breach of Contract and Strict Liability

         Choate's third-party complaint alleges claims for negligence, gross negligence, breach of warranty, breach of contract and strict liability. Reel Enterprises argues that these claims are duplicative of Choate's claim for indemnification. (Dkt. No. 101-1 at 5.)

         Under South Carolina law, a third-party plaintiff cannot proceed with claims that are merely disguised claims for equitable indemnity. The South Carolina Court of Appeals squarely addressed the issue in the pair of cases Stoneledge at Lake Keowee Owners' Ass 'n, Inc. v. Clear View Const., LLC, 413 S.C. 615, 776 S.E.2d 426 (Ct. App. 2015) and Stoneledge at Lake Keowee Owners' Ass' n, Inc. v. Builders FirstSource-Se. Grp., 413 S.C. 630, 776 S.E.2d 434 (Ct. App. 2015) (the "Stoneledge cases"). In the Stoneledge cases, a homeowners' association sued a general contractor and its subcontractors for construction defects. The general contractor filed cross claims against its subcontractors for negligence, breach of contract, and breach of warranty. Stoneledge, 413 S.C. at 619; Stoneledge, 413 S.C. at 634. Importantly, each of those claims were contingent on whether the plaintiff homeowners' association prevailed against the third-party plaintiff general contractor. See, e.g., Stoneledge, 413 S.C. at 636 ("If [Stoneledge's] allegations are true... [the third-party defendants] breached their express and/or implied warranties...."). The court noted that the plaintiffs "could not identify any damages.. .that did not arise exclusively from the claims" made by the plaintiff. Stoneledge, 413 S.C. at 636.

         The Court of Appeals therefore ruled that the "cross-claims arose only when it faced potential liability for Stoneledge's damages and incurred fees and costs defending against Stoneledge's lawsuit. [The third-party plaintiffs] breach of contract and breach of warranty cross-claims are nothing more than claims for equitable indemnity." Stoneledge, 413 S.C. at 636. This Court has previously adopted the rational of the Stoneledge cases. See Holland v. Hucks Pool Co., Inc., "No. 4:15-CV-00141-RBH, 2016 WL 6157491, at *4 (D.S.C. Oct. 24, 2016) ("Here, as in Stoneledge, [the third-party plaintiffs] breach of contract/warranty crossclaim is not viable as a cause of action separate from its equitable indemnity crossclaim.").

         The reasoning in Stoneledge applies here as well. The claims for negligence, gross negligence, breach of warranty, breach of contract and strict liability brought by Third-Party Plaintiff Choate are each dependent solely on the potential liability that may arise from Plaintiff Hampton Hall, LLC's claims against Choate, and Choate has identified no damages that arose separate from Plaintiffs claims. Most tellingly, as in the Stoneledge cases, each of Choate's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.