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Daniel W. Crandall v. Seagate Technology

January 25, 2011

DANIEL W. CRANDALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY, BEST BUY CO., INC., SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY (THAILAND), LTD, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Mikel H. Williams United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND

Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Declaratory Judgment (Dkt. 39), Defendant Best Buy Co., Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 47), Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Amended Complaint (Dkt. 51), and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order (Dkt. 59).

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Daniel W. Crandall ("Plaintiff" or "Crandall") filed this lawsuit on March 9, 2010. The Scheduling Conference Order stated that the amendment of pleadings was to occur no later than July 15, 2010. On July 1, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion to file a first amended complaint. This motion was granted and the Amended Complaint was filed on August 9, 2010. On October 20, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion to file a second amended complaint and on November 12, 2010, he filed a motion to amend the scheduling order to extend the deadline for amendment of pleadings, both of which Defendants oppose.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brings this lawsuit as the legal assignee of claims for Backups Plus Computer Services, LLC d/b/a DocTech.us ("DocTech.us"), an Idaho limited liability company. DocTech.us is a small technology services provider that services the computer hardware, software and data warehousing needs of small physician practices and medical billing companies in Idaho. Plaintiff alleges that in September 2008 DocTech.us purchased several 7200.11 hard drives manufactured by Seagate Technology Thailand Ltd. ("Seagate Thailand"), a subsidiary of Seagate Technology ("Seagate Technology") (collectively, these entities will be referred to as "Seagate") at a Best Buy store located in Nampa, Idaho. After installing the hard drives in accordance with Seagate's guidelines and industry standards, Plaintiff alleges that the hard drives performed in accordance with Seagate's guidelines and industry standards until May 21, 2009 when the DocTech.us computer systems suffered a sudden and catastrophic mechanical breakdown of two of the six hard drive components, which resulted in the total loss of functionality of the DocTech.us systems and its hosted clients' computer systems. Plaintiff brings claims of negligence, strict products liability and breach of warranty against Best Buy and Seagate. Plaintiff has filed a motion for declaratory judgment on the issue of whether Best Buy is immune from liability under the Idaho Products Liability Reform Act. Best Buy responded by moving for summary judgment on all claims.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where "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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.

R. Civ. P. 56(c). "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. See id. at 248.

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc). To carry this burden, the moving party need not introduce any affirmative evidence (such as affidavits or depositions excerpts) but may simply point out the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 532 (9th Cir. 2000).

This shifts the burden to the non-moving party to produce evidence sufficient to support a jury verdict in her favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256-57 (1986). The non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show "by her affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file" that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

DISCUSSION

1. Strict Products Liability Claim

The Idaho Products Liability Reform Act provides, in part:

In the absence of express warranties to the contrary, product sellers other than manufacturers shall not be subject to liability in circumstances where they do not have a reasonable opportunity to inspect the product in a manner which would or should, in the exercise of reasonable care, reveal the existence of the defective condition which is in issue; or where the product seller acquires the product in a sealed package or container and sells the product in the same sealed package or container. The liability limitation of this subsection shall not apply if:

(a) The product seller had knowledge or reason to know of the defect in the product;

(b) The product seller altered, modified, or installed the product, and such alteration, modification or installation was a substantial proximate cause of the incident giving rise to the action, was not authorized or requested by the manufacturer and was not performed in compliance with the directions or specifications of the manufacturer;

(c) The product seller provided the plans or specifications for the manufacture or preparation of the product and such plans or specifications were a substantial cause of the product's alleged defect.

(d) The product seller is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the manufacturer, or the manufacturer is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the product seller.

(e) The product seller sold the product after the expiration date placed on the product or its package by the manufacturer.

I.C. § 6-1407(1). A product seller is defined as "any person or entity that is engaged in the business of selling products, whether the sale is for resale, or for the use or consumption. The term includes a manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor or retailer of the relevant product." I.C. § 6-1402(1).

The Idaho Supreme Court has held that a retailer may be liable under section 6-1407(1) if one of several events occurred: (1) the retailer made express warranties concerning the product that were inconsistent with those made by the manufacturer; (2) the retailer had a reasonable opportunity to inspect the product and should have ...


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