820 F.3d 339 (8th Cir. 2016), 15-1830, Brown v. Louisiana-Pacific Corp.

Docket Nº:15-1830
Citation:820 F.3d 339
Opinion Judge:SMITH, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Alan Todd Brown, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellant v. Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, Defendant - Appellee
Attorney:For Alan Todd Brown, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellant: Daniel K. Bryson, Scott Crissman Harris, WHITFIELD & BRYSON, Raleigh, NC; Gary Edward Mason, WHITFIELD & BRYSON, Washington, DC; Robert G. Tully, LAW OFFICES OF ROB TULLY, P.C., West Des Moine...
Judge Panel:Before RILEY, Chief Judge, SMITH and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:April 12, 2016
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
SUMMARY

Plaintiff filed suit against LP, alleging claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, unfair or deceptive practices, and breach of warranty against LP for the purported defectiveness of its TrimBoard product. The district court granted summary judgment to LP. In order for plaintiff to prevail on his fraudulent-misrepresentation claim under Iowa law, he must prove eight elements. At issue is the... (see full summary)

 
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Page 339

820 F.3d 339 (8th Cir. 2016)

Alan Todd Brown, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellant

v.

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, Defendant - Appellee

No. 15-1830

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 12, 2016

Submitted October 20, 2015

Page 340

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 341

Appeal from United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa - Des Moines.

For Alan Todd Brown, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellant: Daniel K. Bryson, Scott Crissman Harris, WHITFIELD & BRYSON, Raleigh, NC; Gary Edward Mason, WHITFIELD & BRYSON, Washington, DC; Robert G. Tully, LAW OFFICES OF ROB TULLY, P.C., West Des Moines, IA.

For Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, Defendant - Appellee: Gregory M. Lederer, LEDERER & WESTON, Cedar Rapids, IA; John Parker Sweeney, BRADLEY & ARANT, Washington, DC; James Weatherholtz, WOMBLE & CARLYLE, Charleston, SC.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, SMITH and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 342

SMITH, Circuit Judge.

Alan Todd Brown appeals the district court's[1] grant of summary judgment to Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) on Brown's claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, unfair or deceptive practices, and breach of warranty against LP for the purported defectiveness of its TrimBoard product. We affirm.

I. Background

The following facts are undisputed. LP's former subsidiary, ABT Building Products Corporation (ABT), manufactured and sold TrimBoard, an exterior building component intended for use as trim in housing construction. In 2003, Brown purchased a lot from Bryan Clark Holmes, LLC in Urbandale, Iowa, and hired Bryan Clark to construct a home on the property for Brown and his wife. When discussing construction materials with Clark, Brown emphasized the importance of finding a siding-and-trim product that would not cause the rotting and buckling problems present in Brown's prior home. TrimBoard was ultimately the

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product selected and installed on Brown's home.2

The TrimBoard installed on Brown's home came with a ten-year limited warranty; it provides, in relevant part: Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) warrants its TrimBoard, exclusive of finish, against delamination, checking, splitting, cracking and chipping of the basic substrate for a period of ten years from the date of installation under normal conditions of use and exposure, providing the trim is properly stored, installed, maintained, and protected as specified in LP's Application Instructions. Should the product fail within ten years of the date of installation, LP, after investigation and verification, will replace the defective trim on the following basis: LP will compensate the owner for repair and replacement of the affected trim no more than twice the original purchase price of the affected trim if failure occurs within ten years.

Brown never viewed informational or advertising literature for TrimBoard, never spoke to any representative of LP about the TrimBoard product, and did not see a copy of the limited warranty prior to the product's installation on his home.

In August 2004, Brown moved into his new home. Sometime in 2010, Brown noticed damage to certain pieces of the installed TrimBoard and contacted Clark, who advised Brown of the ten-year limited warranty. Brown located a copy of the limited warranty on LP's website and filed a warranty claim. In response to Brown's warranty claim, LP sent a warranty representative to inspect Brown's house and identify the damaged TrimBoard. LP offered Brown $197.67 in compensation for the damaged TrimBoard, which Brown rejected. In January 2011, Brown hired a local contractor to replace various pieces of TrimBoard on his house, at a total cost of $1,700.00, inclusive of labor and materials. Brown admits that only some of the TrimBoard had failed and needed to be replaced by January 2011 but contends that he " subsequently . . . has learned that TrimBoard is not a quality product and not moisture resistant."

Brown subsequently filed this putative class action, alleging claims for negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of warranty, and unfair or deceptive practices, and requested declaratory relief and money damages. Pursuant to LP's dismissal motion, the district court dismissed Brown's claim for negligence and permitted the remaining claims to proceed. LP then moved for summary judgment on all remaining claims. In response to LP's motion for summary judgment, Brown relied on relevant portions of Clark's affidavit. In that affidavit, Clark indicated that he had purchased all of the materials for installation on Brown's residence, including TrimBoard. Advertisements for TrimBoard are attached to the affidavit as Exhibits B, C, and D. The advertisements state, among other things, that the TrimBoard is " [m]oisture resistant/decay resistant" ; is " moisture and weather resistant" ; and " [r]esists warping, cupping." Clark summarized the statements that the advertisements make in his affidavit. Additionally, he stated: 9. The LP advertising accurately portrays what I believed I was purchasing for my customers. I was relying on LP to provide a quality product similar to wood trim but with the

Page 344 benefits described in the advertisements. . . .

***

11. If I had known that the TrimBoard w[as] not a quality product as represented and warranted, then I would not have purchased the TrimBoard and/or recommend[ed] TrimBoard to Mr. Brown. Instead, I would have purchased another trim product.

The district court granted summary judgment to LP on the remaining claims, denied Brown's request for declaratory relief, and dismissed as moot his motion for class certification. First, the court addressed Brown's fraudulent-misrepresentation claim and found that Brown failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact on whether LP made a representation to Clark--Brown's builder. Second, the court found that to establish a claim for unfair or deceptive trade practices under the Iowa Private Right Act, Brown had to establish at least factual causation between the alleged unfair or deceptive practices and his damages. The court held that because Brown failed to create a genuine issue of material fact on whether a representation was made to Clark, Brown failed to create a genuine issue of material fact on factual causation. Finally, as to Brown's claim for breach of express warranty, the district court determined that the limited warranty did not fail of its essential purpose and was not unconscionable, meaning that Brown's remedy was limited to the warranty's terms.

II. Discussion

On appeal, Brown argues that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to LP on his claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, unfair or deceptive practices, and breach of warranty.

" We review a grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and drawing all reasonable inferences from that evidence in favor of the nonmoving party." Smith v. URS Corp., 803 F.3d 964, 968 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). Both parties agree that Iowa law is applicable to the present case.

A. Fraudulent Misrepresentation

Brown argues that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on his fraudulent-misrepresentation claim by focusing only on the element of reliance on affirmative representations. According to Brown, the district court erroneously dismissed this claim after finding that Brown failed to submit evidence that he or Clark, as his builder, relied on specific advertisements or brochures in deciding to purchase TrimBoard. Brown contends that he and all class members actually relied on LP's omission and concealment of material facts in its advertisements that failed to disclose that TrimBoard would rot, swell, warp, or crack when exposed to moisture from rain, lawn sprinklers, or other sources and did not have the decay resistance as advertised. Brown maintains that while he did not rely on any particular advertisement or brochure, he did rely on LP's entire course of conduct. Brown contends that " LP advertised that TrimBoard would last as long as conventional wood[,] and [Brown] and class members relied on LP's omission to tell them otherwise."

For Brown to prevail on his fraudulent-misrepresentation claim under Iowa law, he must prove the following elements: (1) defendant made a representation to the plaintiff, (2) the representation was false, (3) the representation was material, (4) the defendant knew the representation was false, (5) the defendant intended to deceive the plaintiff, (6) the

Page 345 plaintiff acted in reliance on the truth of the representation and was justified in relying on the...

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