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Marvin Lumber and Cedar Co. v. Sapa Extrusions, Inc.

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

August 2, 2013

Marvin Lumber and Cedar Company, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Sapa Extrusions, Inc., Defendant. Sapa Extrusions, Inc., Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
The Valspar Corporation, Third-Party Defendant.

Andrew K. Fletcher, Evan A. Bloch, Richard M. Weibley, Pepper Hamilton LLP, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, John W. Ursu, Robert J. Gilbertson, Sybil L. Dunlop, Greene Espel PLLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Third-Party Plaintiff Sapa Extrusions, Inc.

Richard Ihrig, Meghan M. Elliott, David A. Allgeyer, John C. Ekman, Bryan R. Freeman, Lindquist & Vennum LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Third-Party Defendant The Valspar Corporation.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD H. KYLE, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Marvin Lumber and Cedar Company ("Marvin")[1] manufactures windows, doors, and related products. For more than ten years it purchased painted aluminum extrusions[2] (also called "lineals") from Defendant Sapa Extrusions, Inc. ("Sapa"), [3] which it used to make aluminum-clad windows and doors. Customers who installed these products in coastal locations eventually began to complain that the products were losing paint adhesion, and Marvin undertook extensive (and expensive) repairs. It commenced this action against Sapa in 2010, seeking to recoup its repair costs; it asserted breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranties, fraud, and similar claims. Sapa later asserted third-party claims against Valspar Corporation ("Valspar"), its paint supplier, for contribution and indemnity.

The parties undertook extensive discovery lasting more than two years, and with that discovery complete, each moved for summary judgment in whole or in part. The Motions were fully and thoroughly briefed, and the Court heard oral argument on July 18, 2013. Mindful of the parties' preparations for the quickly approaching trial date, the Court issued a short Order (Doc. No. 474) on July 22, 2013, disposing of Marvin's, Sapa's, and Valspar's Motions. Of relevance here, the Court granted Valspar's Motion and dismissed Sapa's Third-Party Complaint. The Court now issues this Memorandum Opinion setting forth the reasons for that decision.

BACKGROUND

The background in this case has been thoroughly discussed in several prior Orders issued by Magistrate Judge Brisbois and need not be repeated here.[4] Facts are recited below only as necessary to understand the Court's decision on the instant Motion and, where recited, are taken in the light most favorable to Sapa (the non-moving party).

STANDARD OF DECISION

Summary judgment is proper if, drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Ricci v. DeStefano , 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009). The moving party bears the burden of showing that the material facts in the case are undisputed. Torgerson v. City of Rochester , 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). The Court must view the evidence, and the inferences that may be reasonably drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Beard v. Banks , 548 U.S. 521, 529-30 (2006); Weitz Co. v. Lloyd's of London , 574 F.3d 885, 892 (8th Cir. 2009). The nonmoving party may not rest on mere allegations or denials, but must show through the presentation of admissible evidence that specific facts exist creating a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A); Wood v. SatCom Mktg., LLC , 705 F.3d 823, 828 (8th Cir. 2013).

ANALYSIS

Despite the mountains of documents submitted by the parties and their copious briefing on the issues, at bottom Valspar's Motion can be easily resolved. The reason is simple. To parrot Valspar's counsel at oral argument, Valspar simply cannot lose - "if Sapa wins, Valspar wins, [and] [i]f Sapa loses, Valspar wins." (7/18/13 Hear. Tr. at 68.) The nature of the claims asserted by Sapa against Valspar and, in turn, the nature of Marvin's claims against Sapa render this conclusion apparent.

Sapa brought two claims in its Third-Party Complaint against Valspar: contribution and indemnity. In each, it seeks to pass on to Valspar any liability that may be assessed against it on Marvin's claims. (See Third-Party Compl. ¶ 34 ("If Sapa is found liable to Marvin for damages resulting from corrosion in Marvin's windows, then Valspar is liable to Sapa for the entire amount of damages for which Sapa is found liable."); id. ¶ 43 ("Sapa is... entitled to contribution from Valspar for any damages for which Sapa may be found liable.").) Hence, if Sapa defeats Marvin's claims at trial, no contribution or indemnification would be necessary (or appropriate), and accordingly Valspar, too, would "win."

But the same is true even if Sapa were to lose on Marvin's claims, because those claims have nothing to do with Valspar. Although the lineals Marvin purchased from Sapa incorporated Valspar's paint, Marvin does not allege any defects in that paint. Rather, Marvin's claims hinge on the paint's application - application that was undertaken by Sapa alone. (See Marvin Mem. (Doc. No. 415) at 5 ("Marvin alleges that failures in Sapa's pretreatment process caused some of the [lineals] to fail to perform as agreed and warranted. Specifically, many of the [lineals] were improperly or insufficiently pretreated.") (emphasis added) (citations omitted); Marvin Reply Mem. (Doc. No. 467) at 6 ("Sapa warranted that it would properly apply the pretreatment and paint such that [the lineals] would perform in the field for 10 ...


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