The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wm. R. Wilson, Jr. United States District Judge
Pending is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment,*fn1 to which Plaintiffs have responded.*fn2 Defendant replied to Plaintiffs' response,*fn3 and Plaintiffs filed a surreply.*fn4
Plaintiffs, the owners of a shopping center -- Trellis Square -- brought this case against Defendant, CertainTeed Corporation, a roofing material manufacturer, alleging negligence, product liability, breach of implied warranties, fraud, and deceptive trade practices.
Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. According to the Complaint,*fn5 Defendant supplied defective roofing materials to Plaintiffs, which leaked and caused damage to the building's interior. Plaintiffs assert that Defendant knew that the material was defective and, therefore, engaged in fraud and deceptive trade practices.
For its motion for summary judgment, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs cannot present sufficient evidence to establish the essential elements of their causes of action.
Plaintiffs own a shopping center comprised of three separate buildings -- identified as buildings A, B/C,*fn6 and D.Roofing materials were purchased by Robert Hall Roofing in January, August, and September 2001 on behalf of Plaintiffs. Materials manufactured by Defendant were installed on buildings B/C and D. Materials from another manufacturer were installed on building A.
Soon after the new roofs were installed, Plaintiffs began having problems with the roofs on buildings B/C and D. In contrast, they had no complaints about building A's roof. The problems increased to such a degree that, by 2003, Plaintiffs asked Defendant about its warranty. In response, Defendant delivered a warranty to Plaintiffs that included a provision which expressly limited any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.*fn7
The roofs on buildings B/C and D continued to deteriorate.
In 2005, Plaintiffs made a complaint to Defendant because of "leaking and laps pulling apart."*fn8 In response, Defendant asked Plaintiffs to provide a roof sample.*fn9 After delivering the sample, Plaintiffs received a letter from Defendant's quality manager, who informed them that the problems resulted from poor installation, and was not the result of granule loss.*fn10 The quality manager mentioned that he examined the sample.*fn11 However, no attempt was made to test the sample, and it was eventually lost.*fn12
II. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact, so that the dispute may be decided on purely legal grounds.*fn13 The Supreme Court has established guidelines to assist trial courts in determining whether this standard has been met:
The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial -- whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.*fn14
The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has cautioned that summary judgment is an extreme remedy that should only be granted when the movant has established a right to the judgment beyond controversy.*fn15 Nevertheless, summary judgment promotes judicial economy by preventing trial when no genuine issue of fact remains.*fn16 I must view the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.*fn17 The Eighth Circuit has also set out the burden of the parties in connection with a summary judgment motion:
[T]he burden on the party moving for summary judgment is only to demonstrate, i.e.,"[to point] out to the District Court," that the record does not disclose a genuine dispute on a material fact. It is enough for the movant to bring up the fact that the record does not contain such an issue and to identify that part of the record which bears out his assertion. Once this is done, his burden is discharged, and, if the record in fact bears out the claim that no genuine dispute exists on any material fact, it is then the respondent's burden to set forth affirmative evidence, specific facts, showing that there is a genuine dispute on that issue. If the respondent fails to carry that burden, summary judgment should be granted.*fn18
Only disputes over facts that may affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will properly preclude the ...