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Hoffman v. Daimler Trucks North Am., LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

April 12, 2013

DONALD KENT HOFFMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
DAIMLER TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA, LLC, et al., Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Donald Kent Hoffman, Plaintiff: Patricia Michels Anderson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Richmond, VA.

For Daimler Trucks North America, LLC, T/A Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, Defendant: Candace Stinson Mundy, LEAD ATTORNEY, John Matthew Weiland, Moran Reeves & Conn P.C., Richmond, VA.

For Camping World RV Sales, LLC, Thor Motor Coach, Inc., Defendants: Danielle Deanna Giroux, LEAD ATTORNEY, John Ryan Owen, HARMAN CLAYTOR CORRIGAN & WELLMAN, RICHMOND, VA; David James Esposito, Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman, Glen Allen, VA.

For Drew Industries, Inc., trading as Lippert Components, Inc., Defendant: William Francis Demarest, III, Goodman, Allen & Filetti, PLLC, Glen Allen, VA.

For Thor Motor Coach, Inc., Camping World RV Sales, LLC, Counter Claimants: Danielle Deanna Giroux, LEAD ATTORNEY, John Ryan Owen, HARMAN CLAYTOR CORRIGAN & WELLMAN, RICHMOND, VA; David James Esposito, Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman, Glen Allen, VA.

For Donald Kent Hoffman, Counter Defendant: Patricia Michels Anderson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Richmond, VA.

OPINION

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Hon. James C. Turk, Senior United States District Judge.

Amended Memorandum Opinion

In this diversity action, Plaintiff Donald Hoffman seeks recovery because he purchased a recreational vehicle (" RV" ) that he insists is a " lemon." The RV Hoffman purchased was manufactured by Thor Motor Coach and sold by Camping World. Daimler Trucks provided the chassis[1] for the RV and Drew Industries[2] supplied

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certain components. Hoffman alleges that the RV is defective, Defendants are liable for breaching express and implied warranties, and Daimler is liable under Virginia's Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act (" Lemon Law" ). Va. Code Ann. § 59.1-207.11 et seq.

This matter is before the Court on four Motions to Dismiss: Thor and Camping World's Motion to Dismiss,[3] ECF No. 31, Daimler's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 45, Drew's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 50, and Hoffman's Motion to Dismiss Camping World's Counterclaim for Attorney's Fees. ECF No. 41. The parties have filed all requisite responses and replies, the Court heard oral argument on all motions on March 5, 2013, and the matter is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Thor and Camping World's Motion to Dismiss, GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Daimler's Motion to Dismiss and grants Plaintiff leave to amend to allege the warranty claims against Daimler with greater factual specificity, GRANTS Drew's Motion to Dismiss, and DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Hoffman's Motion to Dismiss Camping World's claim for attorney's fees.

I. FACTS[4]

Donald Hoffman purchased a Tuscany model RV, manufactured by Thor Motor Coach, on October 29, 2010, paying $196,166.72 in cash. ECF No. 28-1 at 1. In deciding to purchase the RV, Hoffman relied on Thor's reputation, express representations made about the RV by Thor agents at an RV show, and Thor literature that the vehicle was fit for ordinary purposes and the specific purposes for which Hoffman planned to use the RV. Relying on these representations, Hoffman purchased the RV from Camping World in Roanoke, Virginia, the nearest Thor dealer to his home in Fishersville, Virginia. Hoffman was not given any warranty information prior to completing the purchase. ECF No. 28 ¶ 10.

Almost immediately, Hoffman noticed numerous problems with the RV and returned it to Camping World for repairs. See ECF No. 28-2 at 1-17. So began a pattern: Hoffman would notice problems and bring in the RV for repairs and Camping World would repair the RV. Hoffman noticed further problems--or the " fixed" problems would re-occur--and Camping World would again attempt repairs. The repair records attached to the Amended Complaint reveal the dates when the RV was at Camping World for repairs: from December 6, 2010 to December 22, 2010; from February 2, 2011 to March 31, 2011; from May 27, 2011 to June 11, 2011; and from July 20, 2011 to August 12, 2011. Id. Specifically, the Amended Complaint lists these defects:

Automatic leveler and indicator lights do not work; water and waste water indicator lights do not work at all; aisle lights in coach do not work; deadbolt does not work, door does not lock from the inside; slide-out does not return; the door leaks water into the cabin when it rains; sprayer on kitchen sink leaks; there is no heat; the front seat will not swivel or

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recline as it should; the map light does not work; the airbags deflate; there is no GPS as promised; there is no satellite television as promised; the driver's side mirror will not stay in place; control panel is not functioning properly; window shades do not function properly; the steps are installed improperly, causing rubbing against the body; a key was broken off inside the access panel to the outside television; the batteries die quickly, as well as multiple other functional and cosmetic defects, resulting in multiple repair attempts that kept the RV out of service for 9 of the first 10 months of ownership.

ECF No. 28 ¶ 11. Hoffman cites as " ongoing nonconformities" " all the batteries dying, various indicator lights not working, the lock not working properly, airbag deflation, slide out not returning, no heat, [and the] door leaking during rain." Id. ¶ 15. Additionally, during one of the repair attempts at Camping World, the RV developed a mouse infestation because of being left outside. Id. ¶ 13. The repair records also refer to Hoffman's attempts to coordinate warranty coverage for the RV with Daimler. ECF No. 28-2 at 3, 9 (Camping World telling Hoffman that an issue with the air bags would have to be addressed with Daimler, trading as Freightliner, and Hoffman reporting back that Freightliner said it was " ok as per truck stand[a]rds" ); see also ECF No. 54 at 3-4 (including more detail as to Hoffman's interactions with Daimler).

The general warranty for the RV lasted for twelve months, ending on or about October 29, 2011. As Hoffman advised the Court at oral argument, sometime before this period expired he attempted to revoke his acceptance of the RV by dropping it off at Camping World and seeking a refund of the purchase price. The RV remains at Camping World pending the outcome of this litigation.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This case, although still in its early stages, has already amassed a significant procedural history. Hoffman filed his original Complaint in the Henrico County Circuit Court on April 26, 2012, just three days before eighteen months had transpired since the purchase of the RV. ECF No. 1-1 at 1. The original Complaint consisted of two claims: Claim 1 alleged breaches of express and implied warranties and named all four Defendants; and Claim 2 alleged a violation by Thor of Virginia's Lemon Law.

Hoffman served Thor and Camping World, who then removed the case based on diversity jurisdiction[5] to the Eastern District of Virginia on May 23, 2012. ECF No. 1. Since the sale of the RV took place in Roanoke and Hoffman resides in Fishersville--both of which are located in the Western District of Virginia, the case was transferred to the Western District on August 21, 2012. ECF No. 16. The three parties ...


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