Monticello v. Winnebago Industries, Inc.

Decision Date09 March 2005
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 1:04-CV-0041-RWS.
Citation369 F.Supp.2d 1350
PartiesJoseph MONTICELLO, Plaintiff, v. WINNEBAGO INDUSTRIES, INC., and Workhorse Custom Chassis, LLC., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia

Eric Scott Fortas, Jack Gunn, Marshall S. Meyers, Krohn & Moss Atlanta, GA, for Plaintiff.

Mark Daniel Lefkow, Michael David Hostetter, Nall & Miller, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant, Winnebago Industries, Inc. Chilton Davis Varner, Franklin P. Brannen, Jr., Jacob Edward Daly, King & Spalding, Atlanta, GA, for Workhorse Custom Chassis, LLC, defendant.

ORDER

STORY, District Judge.

Now before the Court for consideration are Defendant Workhorse Custom Chassis, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment [51-1], Defendant Winnebago Industries, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment [53-1], Defendant Winnebago Industries, Inc.'s Motion to Supplement [63-1], and Plaintiff's Motion to Supplement [66-1]. After considering the entire record and the arguments of the parties, the Court enters the following Order.

Background
I. The Purchase

This case is for breach of warranty arising out of Plaintiff's purchase of a recreational vehicle. Plaintiff Joseph Monticello and his wife purchased a new 2003 Winnebago Sightseer recreational vehicle (the "Vehicle" or the "RV") in March 2003. Plaintiff purchased the RV in Lake Park, Georgia from Suncoast RV and entered into a Retail Installment and Security Agreement with Suncoast for purchase of the RV. (Monticello Dep. at 18; Pl.'s Compl. [1] Ex. A.)1 Defendant Winnebago Industries, Inc. ("Winnebago") is a foreign corporation authorized to do business in the State of Georgia. Winnebago is engaged in the manufacture of recreational vehicle components and related equipment and services which it distributes through authorized dealers, including Suncoast RV. Defendant Workhorse Custom Chassis, LLC. ("Workhorse") is an Illinois limited liability corporation that is authorized to do business in the State of Georgia. Workhorse is engaged in the manufacture and sale of chassis used in motor homes. Workhorse manufactured the chassis used in Plaintiff's 2003 Winnebago Sightseer. (Def.'s Answer to Pl.'s Am. Compl. [18] ¶¶ 1,4.)

II. The Warranties
A. The Winnebago Limited Warranty

At the time of the purchase, Plaintiff signed a Winnebago Sale and Warranty Registration Card where he certified that "I HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE WARRANTY DOCUMENTS FOR THIS VEHICLE PRIOR TO SALE AND I HAVE READ, UNDERSTOOD AND AGREE TO ITS TERMS FULLY." (Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 4.)2 Plaintiff, however, does not recall receiving the limited warranty and states that his signature took place at a time when he was signing numerous documents. (Monticello Dep. 23-24.) The warranty is titled the "2003 New Vehicle Limited Warranty." (See Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [53] Ex. 5 (hereinafter "Winnebago Warranty").) The Warranty provides that the basic warranty period is twelve months or 15,000 miles, whichever occurs first.3 It also states that

ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE APPLICABLE TO THIS VEHICLE IS LIMITED IN DURATION TO THE DURATION OF THIS WRITTEN WARRANTY AS HEREINBEFORE OR HEREINAFTER PROVIDED. THE PERFORMANCE OF REPAIRS

IS THE EXCLUSIVE REMEDY UNDER THIS WRITTEN WARRANTY OR ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY. WINNEBAGO INDUSTRIES SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF TIME, INCONVENIENCE, OR OTHER CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGE.

(Id.) The Warranty specifies "ITEMS NOT SUBJECT TO WARRANTY COVERAGE" as "Chassis, Wheels, Tires, Service items, such as Windshield Wiper Blades, Lubricants, Fluids & Filters," and "Adjustments." Additionally, the Warranty specifies the steps a customer should follow when seeking repairs under the section titled "CUSTOMER RESPONSIBILITY WHEN REPAIRS ARE NEEDED." This section informs a consumer to take his vehicle to the selling dealer for repairs. If the dealer cannot repair the vehicle, the procedure states that the dealer should contact Winnebago. If the repair is still not made, the consumer should contact Winnebago directly. Winnebago's address and phone number are listed.

B. The Workhorse Limited Warranty

At the time of Plaintiff's purchase of the RV he also received an owner's manual from Workhorse. (Monticello Dep. at 98.) Section 7 of the owner's manual contains the "New Chassis Limited Warranty." (See Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [51] Ex. 1 (hereinafter "Workhorse Warranty").) The Workhorse Warranty in the section titled "Basic Chassis Coverage" provides that "Chassis Coverage includes the chassis frame, axle, engine, transmission, brakes, steering, suspension, and certain electrical components supplied by WCC." (Warranty at 328.) This coverage extends for three years or up to 46,000 miles, whichever comes first. This section also identifies that there are certain exceptions to basic coverage which are listed under the section titled "What is not covered" and refers the consumer to pages 330, 331, 332, and 333. (Id.)

As to the air-conditioning system, the Workhorse Warranty states that "the components that were installed by [Workhorse] will be covered under the Basic Chassis Coverage." (Warranty at 334.) It further identifies the components that may have been installed as the "compressor, condensor, condensor fan, receiver-drier, line between compressor and condensor, and the high and low pressure cut-off switches." The Warranty states that all other components of the air-conditioning would have been installed by the body company and refers the consumer to the body company's warranty. (Id.) The warranty provides in bold print that

Any, implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose applicable to this chassis is limited in duration to the duration of this written warranty. Performance of repairs and needed adjustments is the exclusive remedy under this written warranty or any implied warranty. WCC shall not be liable for incidental or consequential damages (such as, but not limited to, lost wages or vehicle rental expenses) resulting from breach of this written warranty or any implied warranty.

(Id. at 333.)

III. The Problems

Plaintiff contends that he had numerous problems with the RV and that he had to take it in for service at least seven times and that he could not use the RV for over ninety days. (Monticello Aff. [60] ¶ 13.) The record is less than clear, however, on the specific repairs sought by Plaintiff including when he sought them and from whom.

The vehicle inspection report conducted by Winnebago's Service District Manager Steve Hamme, indicates that on the date of purchase in March 2003, "max air vents" were installed for Plaintiff. (Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [53] Ex. 6 (hereinafter "Hamme Aff.").) At that time the RV had mileage of 1,369 miles. (Id.) On July 29, 2003, the RV was brought in to Winnebago, presumably at Suncoast, for an oil change at 5,541 miles. When Plaintiff returned to pick-up the RV, he noticed that the "check engine light" was on and there was smoke coming from the exhaust. (Monticello Dep. at 47.) Plaintiff was told that he should contact Workhorse regarding the problem. A repair order dated July 30, 2003, shows that Plaintiff's RV was serviced by Travel Country RV Center in Lake Park, Georgia. (See Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [58] Ex. D.) According to the repair order the customer is designated as "Workhorse" and the order indicates that Plaintiff complained that the check engine light was on, the unit was smoking when running and the air conditioning was blowing hot air when the RV was in idle. (Id.) Regarding the first two complaints, the order indicates that the fuel injector was repaired. As to the last complaint, the order states that the problem could not be duplicated and that the unit would not cool because of the configuration. (Id.)

Plaintiff then began the return trip to his home in Tennessee when he experienced continued smoke coming from the exhaust. (Monticello Dep. at 50.) Workhorse then sent a tow-truck and had the RV towed to Kenworth of Atlanta for repairs. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [58] Ex. D.) That repair order also indicates that it is being made pursuant to a Workhorse warranty. The Kenworth repair order indicates that they found a fuel injector leak and that it was repaired.

After the repair by Kenworth, Plaintiff still noticed smoke coming from the exhaust and against contacted Workhorse. (Monticello Dep. at 55.) This time, Workhorse referred him to Camping Time RV Center in Woodstock, Georgia. The Camping Time repair order indicates that the RV was taken in on September 6, 2003. Plaintiff made several complaints and/or requests about the RV at that time including: (1) that the RV was blowing fuel and smoke from the exhaust; (2) the check engine light was on; (3) the jack down lights were coming on; (4) the cover and tray were loose on the engine cover; and, (5) he requested service for a Winnebago recall.

The order indicates that the first two problems were related. Camping Time "found a bad TAC module," "replaced PCM and calibrated crank position," and reprogrammed the PCM which repaired the problem with the check engine light and the smoke coming from the exhaust. As to the jack lights, the order notes that Camping Time is not a certified Winnebago warranty facility. As to the Winnebago recall, the order states that the recall work is for the gas stove and is not for chassis work. Since the repair at Camping Time, Plaintiff has not had a problem with the check engine light and smoke no longer comes out of the exhaust. (Monticello Dep. at 56-57.) Plaintiff states, however, that fluid comes out of the exhaust and the oil light stays on and the jack light comes on.

By a letter dated November 13, 2003, Plaintiff, through counsel, sent a letter to Defendants purporting to revoke acceptance of the RV. The letter alleges that "[b]ecause of the inordinate amount of repairs within...

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