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Tri Coast LLC v. The Sherwin-Williams Co.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 18, 2018

TRI COAST LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
THE SHERWIN-WILLIAMS COMPANY, Defendant.

          DENOIA, TAMBASCO & GERMANN By: Thomas DeNoia, Esq. Attorneys for Plaintiff Tri Coast LLC

          BALLARD SPAHR LLP By: John B. Kearney, Esq. Attorneys for Defendant The Sherwin-Williams Company

          OPINION

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Tri Coast LLC was awarded a contract by the United States Bureau of Prisons to paint the metal roofs on buildings at the federal prison in Fairton, New Jersey. Tri Coast purchased an exterior metal roof coating system-- i.e., primer and finisher--from Defendant The Sherwin-Williams Company (“Sherwin-Williams”) and used those products for the Fairton project. Shortly after the roofs were painted, the new paint began to peel. Tri Coast contends that Sherwin-Williams sold it products that were not fit for use together on the Fairton project. The First Amended Complaint (the operative complaint) asserts claims for: (1) breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose; (2) breach of contract; and (3) negligent misrepresentation.

         Sherwin-Williams moves for partial summary judgment, seeking to eliminate all claims except the breach of contract claim, and it further seeks to limit the damages Tri Coast may potentially recover on the breach of contract claim.[1]

         For the reasons stated herein, the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In mid-September, 2013, the Bureau of Prisons awarded Tri Coast the contract to paint the metal roofs on the buildings at Fairton Correctional Institution. (SMFND[2] ¶ 10) Tri Coast maintained an “account” with Sherwin-Williams, and chose “to go with [Sherwin-Williams'] products believing that [Sherwin-Williams] would have a product suitable for [the] project.” (Robbins Dep. p. 56) Tri Coast “met with Sherwin-Williams, ” gave it the Bureau of Prisons' “Statement of Work” which described the project, and Sherwin-Williams “gave [Tri Coast] the products they believed would best suit th[e] project.” (Id. at p. 54) Those products were Dura-Plate 235 Multi-Purpose Epoxy base coat and Envirolastic 840 High Gloss DTM Urethane finish. (Amend. Compl. Ex. B; SMFND ¶¶ 31, 34)

         The Product Information and Application Bulletins for the products, which Sherwin-Williams' representative, Jim Criss, provided to Tri Coast in an email on November 10, 2013 (Plaintiff's Ex. 5), contain the following warranty language:

         Warranty

         The Sherwin-Williams Company warrants our products to be free of manufacturing defects in accord with applicable Sherwin-Williams quality control procedures. Liability for products proven defective, if any, is limited to replacement of the defective product or the refund of the purchase price paid for the defective product as determined by Sherwin-Williams. NO OTHER WARRANTY OR GUARANTEE OF ANY KIND IS MADE BY SHERWIN-WILLIAMS, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, STATUTORY, BY OPERATION OF LAW OR OTHERWISE, INCLUDING MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

         (SMFND ¶ 31)

         The Exterior Metal Roof Coating System Industrial Painting Schedule Guide (“Schedule Guide”), also provided to Tri Coast by Sherwin-Williams in the same email (Plaintiff's Ex. 5), states:

         Part 4 WARRANTY

         4, 115 Year Warranty:

         The manufacturers coating system warranty is for material only, the warranty is for a 15 year period against peeling and corrosion from the properly prepared and coated bare steel and the properly prepared and coated existing coating system.

         (SMFND ¶ 37)

         In late summer 2014, Tri Coast began applying the coating system to the roofs at Fairton. (SMFND ¶ 51; Robbins Dep. p. 83) “On or about September 18, 2014, . . . some sections of the newly applied paint” were observed to be “peeling off the D Unit roof.” (SMFND ¶ 53) In October, more paint “was observed to be lifting or peeling from additional buildings which had already been coated.” (Id. ¶ 54) “Ultimately, the paint peeled from all of the roofs except the lower building between the two D Units.” (Id. ¶ 55)

         “In the summer of 2015, Tri Coast painted the roofs again (other than the roof which did not peel) with different products purchased from Sherwin-Williams. To date, the paint that was applied in the ...


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