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Stuebe v. S.S. Industries LLC

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

July 20, 2018

DAVID STUEBE and PAIGE STUEBE, Plaintiffs,
v.
S.S. INDUSTRIES, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN PART, DENYING THE MOTION IN PART WITHOUT PREJUDICE, AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant SS Industries, LLC's (“S.S. Industries”) motion for summary judgment or, in the alternative, transfer venue (Dkt. 12). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby rules as follows:

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 11, 2017, Plaintiffs David and Paige Stuebe (“Stuebes”) filed a complaint for personal injury and product liability against S.S. Industries. Dkt. 1.

         On May 24, 2018, S.S. Industries filed instant motion for summary judgment that the Stuebes' claims are barred by the suit limitation clause in the parties' contract or, in the alternative, transfer to Pennsylvania pursuant to the forum selection clause in the parties' contract. Dkt. 12. On June 11, 2018, the Stuebes responded. Dkt. 15. On June 15, 2018, S.S. Industries replied. Dkt. 19. On June 27, 2018, the Stuebes filed a notice of supplemental authority. Dkt. 21.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On April 18, 2017, Mr. Stuebe contacted Mylen Stairs and spoke with Chris Strader, a Mylen sales representative. Dkt. 17, Declaration of David Stuebe (“Stuebe Decl.”), ¶ 2. Mr. Stuebe contacted Mylen because he was interested in installing a spiral staircase from his deck to his backyard. Id. ¶ 2. Over the following week, Mr. Stuebe and Mr. Strader discussed Mylen products and particular stair plans for Mr. Stuebe's needs. Id. ¶¶ 3-12. On April 25, 2017, Mr. Stuebe notified Mr. Strader by email that he wished to purchase a particular staircase. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. Mr. Strader informed Mr. Stuebe that he would be receiving an email with some documents to sign. Id. ¶ 12. On April 26, 2017, Mr. Stuebe received an email with a link to four documents: “a spiral staircase drawing plan, the Spiral Stair Order Form, the Statement of Understanding, and a credit card form.” Id. ¶ 14. Although Mr. Stuebe reviewed some of the order form, he “did not read the small print at the bottom referencing the separate (and not provided) Terms and Conditions.” Id. ¶ 17. The Terms and Conditions contained a forum selection clause and a three-month suit limitation provision.

         On June 29, 2017, Mr. Stuebe received his staircase. Id. ¶ 22. On July 5, 2017, Mr. Stuebe was injured while attempting to install the staircase. Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Summary Judgment

         S.S. Industries moves for summary judgment that (1) the Terms and Conditions were properly incorporated into the parties' agreement, (2) the Stuebes are bound by the Terms and Conditions, and (3) the suit limitation provision is enforceable, which bars the Stuebes' untimely claims, or, in the alternative, the forum selection clause is enforceable. Dkt. 12. The Stuebes respond that the Terms and Conditions were not properly incorporated into the parties' contract or, in the alternative, they are unconscionable and unreasonable. Dkt. 15 at 5.

         1. Standard

         Summary judgment is proper only if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim in the case on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). There is no genuine issue of fact for trial where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (nonmoving party must present specific, significant probative evidence, not simply “some metaphysical doubt”). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Conversely, a genuine dispute over a material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute, requiring a judge or jury to resolve the differing versions of the truth. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         The determination of the existence of a material fact is often a close question. The Court must consider the substantive evidentiary burden that the nonmoving party must meet at trial - e.g., a preponderance of the evidence in most civil cases. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254; T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. The Court must resolve any factual issues of controversy in favor of the nonmoving party only when the facts specifically attested by that party contradict facts specifically attested by the moving party. The nonmoving party may not merely state that it will discredit the moving party's evidence at trial, in the hopes that evidence can be developed at trial to support the claim. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630 (relying on And ...


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