United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD D. ROGERS, District Judge.
This case arises from two fires which originated within trash trucks purchased and operated by plaintiff Board of County Commissioners. Damage from the fires was limited to the trucks. This case is now before the court upon the motion to dismiss of defendants Daimler Trucks North America, LLC and Omaha Truck Center, Inc. The motion argues that plaintiff's tort-based claims against these two defendants and plaintiff's implied warranty claim against defendant Daimler should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. The court shall grant the motion for the reasons which follow.
I. THE ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
The complaint alleges that plaintiff purchased five 2010 Freightliner trucks, Model M2-106V, from defendant Omaha Truck. Each truck had a rear load trash compactor manufactured and installed by defendant Scranton. The chassis of each truck was manufactured by defendant Daimler.
According to the complaint, a different truck caught fire on two occasions. One fire occurred on February 8, 2013, making the truck a complete loss. The second fire occurred on September 3, 2014 causing a loss of the truck's use. The complaint alleges that the fires were originated by a junction box that controls lights and turn signals on the rear load trash compactor. The junction box has also been referred to as a power distribution module or "PDM." The junction box has a Freightliner part number.
The complaint alleges the following claims: negligence by defendant Daimler; strict liability against Daimler; breach of warranty against Daimler; and breach of implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for an intended purpose against Daimler; negligence by Scranton; strict liability against Scranton; breach of implied warranty against Scranton; negligence against Omaha Truck; and breach of implied warranty against Omaha Truck. Plaintiff seeks to recover economic damages for the loss of the trucks.
III. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARDS
In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court assumes as true all well-pleaded facts. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Under FED.R.CIV.P. 8(a)(2), a complaint must show in a short and plan statement "that the pleader is entitled to relief." The court will grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss when the factual allegations fail to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." 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." Ashcroft, supra. This is a "context-specific task" requiring resort to "judicial experience and common sense, " "[b]ut where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 879 (quoting FED.R.CIV.P. 8(a)(2)).
IV. THE ECONOMIC LOSS DOCTRINE REQUIRES THAT PLAINTIFF'S TORT-BASED CLAIMS BE DISMISSED AGAINST DEFENDANTS DAIMLER AND OMAHA TRUCK.
In their motion, defendants assert first that, according to the economic loss doctrine, plaintiff may not recover economic losses on the basis of tort-based product liability and negligence claims. Under the economic loss doctrine, a plaintiff seeking recovery for economic losses only, and not personal injuries or damage to other property, cannot proceed under theories sounding in tort. Rand Const. Co. v. Dearborn Mid-West Conveyor Co., 944 F.Supp.2d 1042, 1062 (D.Kan. 2013); Coker v. Siler, 304 P.3d 689, 693 (Kan.App. 2013).
Plaintiff makes three arguments against the application of the economic loss doctrine in this case. First, plaintiff contends that the damage caused by the "defective goods" - which we assume to mean the junction box - was not limited to the goods themselves because the chassis and the trash compactors were also damaged and that this constituted damage to "other property" not covered by the economic loss doctrine. We reject this argument as inconsistent with Kansas case law precedent. As defendants note, in Koss Construction v. Caterpillar, Inc., 960 P.2d 255 (Kan. App. 1998) and Jordan v. Case Corporation, Inc., 993 P.2d 650 (Kan. App. 1999), it was held that the economic loss doctrine applied to fires caused by defective component parts of a machine (in Koss, hydraulic hoses in a Caterpillar highway roller; in Jordan, an engine in a combine). The Koss decision referred to the analysis of the United States Supreme Court in East River S.S. Corp. v. Transamerica Delaval, 476 U.S. 858, 867 (1986) stating:
As the Supreme Court noted in East River, all but the most simple machines have component parts. This does not mean that damage to "other property" results when one defective part causes damages to another part within the same product. To hold otherwise would eliminate the distinction between warranty and strict liability.
960 P.2d at 260.
Plaintiff also argues against the application of the economic loss doctrine at this stage of the case upon the grounds that discovery should be allowed to determine defendants' knowledge of the defects at issue in this case. Plaintiff asserts that if defendants had knowledge of a defect or should have had such knowledge, then defendants had a legal duty to warn plaintiff of the dangers posed by the defect. Plaintiff further suggests that defendants had an independent legal duty to design and manufacture the junction box properly and, therefore, plaintiff may proceed with a tort theory. We reject these arguments because the complaint does not contain the legal or factual allegations which would support a claim of failure to warn and plaintiff does not make citation to Kansas legal authority supporting a violation ...