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Frisvold v. Pentair Filtration Solutions LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

July 31, 2017

LARRY FRISVOLD and CINDY FRISVOLD, Plaintiffs,
v.
PENTAIR FILTRATION SOLUTIONS LLC, PENTAIR AQUA ECO SYSTEMS, PENTAIR SALES US, INC., PENTAIR FLOW CONTROL AG CORPORATION, PENTAIR FLOW TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, PENTAIR SSC U.S. CO., PENTAIR THERMAL MANAGEMENT LLC, PENTAIR VALVES & CONTROLS U.S. LP and CORPORATE DOE 1, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT TO JOIN ADDITIONAL PARTIES AND RELIEF FROM CASE SCHEDULING DEADLINE

          ROBERT S. LASNIK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, (Dkt. #13) and on plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend their complaint to join additional parties and for relief from the case scheduling deadline pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 15 and 16(e), and LCR 15 and 16(b)(4). Dkt. #26. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is DENIED, and plaintiffs' motion is GRANTED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed this suit in King County Superior Court alleging that a defect in a water filtration system manufactured and distributed by Pentair Filtrations Solutions and various affiliates and subsidiaries (collectively, “Pentair”) caused the filter to release water into the plaintiffs' home, damaging real and personal property. Dkt. #1-2 at 3. Plaintiffs assert that the filter was unreasonably dangerous as the result of defective design and manufacture, that Pentair failed to warn customers of the product's potential for failure or to provide adequate instructions on its use, and that the filter violates implied warranties to Pentair's customers. Dkt. #1-2. Pentair removed the case on January 30, 2017. Dkt. #1. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on March 7, 2017, adding factual allegations and a claim for breach of express warranty. Dkt. #10. On March 23, 2017, defendants moved to dismiss all claims against them with prejudice, arguing that the amended complaint relies on an improper cause of action and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dkt. #13 at 2.

         After receiving Pentair's initial disclosures on April 3, 2017, plaintiffs identified two additional parties involved in the manufacture and design of the product in question. Dkt. #26 at 3. Plaintiffs then filed this motion to amend their complaint to join two additional parties: Pentair Residential Filtration LLC (Omnifilter) and Sta-Rite Industries Inc. Dkt. #26 at 4. Plaintiffs' proposed second amended complaint contains no new claims against any of the defendants. Plaintiffs' motion also requests for relief from the case scheduling order setting the deadline to join additional parties as May 12, 2017. Dkt. #25. Pentair opposes plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend on the grounds that amendment would be futile for reasons articulated in Pentair's pending motion to dismiss, and also because plaintiffs' proposed amended complaint fails to relate back to their original complaint. Dkt. #28.

         III. ANALYSIS

         The Court analyzes Pentair's motion to dismiss and plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend together because Pentair's opposition to plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend tracks the arguments in its pending motion to dismiss. Therefore the Court will first consider Pentair's motion to dismiss before turning to plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend.

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         1.) Legal Standard

         Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate if a pleading “does not allege enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ebner v. Fresh, Inc., 838 F.3d 958, 962-63 (9th Cir. 2016) (internal brackets omitted). The Court accepts “all factual allegations in the complaint as true and constru[es] them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Id. at 962. The inquiry is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 963 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)).

         Plaintiffs allege they purchased an Omnifilter® Undersink Water Filter Model SFM2 for use in their home, that the product and/or its component parts were designed, manufactured, constructed and/or assembled by Pentair, and that the product failed due to interior fractures in the filter's housing, releasing water that damaged real and personal property. Dkt. #10 at 2, ¶2.2-2.5. Relying on Braden v. Tornier, Inc., No. C09-5529RJB, 2008 WL 3188075, at *3 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 30, 2009), plaintiffs argue that they have alleged sufficient non-conclusory facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face by alleging that they purchased a specific product from Pentair, that the product failed due to interior fractures, and that the failure resulted in damages. Dkt. #23 at 9.

         Pentair argues that plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed because they are grounded on a products liability theory, and as such are preempted by the Washington Products Liability Act (WPLA). Dkt. #13 at 2. Further, Pentair argues that even if the Court construes plaintiffs' claim as a strict liability claim, the complaint offers only “threadbare recitals” and “conclusory allegations, ” and also fails to allege the required elements for their cause of action. Dkt. #24 at 5. Pentair contends that simply alleging Pentair manufactured the product that failed and caused damages does not create a plausible claim.[1] Therefore, Pentair argues that because the complaint fails to allege specifics about the alleged defects, how the product was dangerous, or how the warnings were inaccurate, plaintiffs fail to adequately plead their products liability claims. Dkt. #24 at 7.

         2.) Washington ...


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