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Coghlan v. Wellcraft Marine Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

January 26, 2001, Decided

No. 99-41443


 [*451]  EDITH H. JONES, Circuit Judge:

The Coghlans, dissatisfied boat purchasers, appeal from the district court's sua sponte dismissal of their case for failure to state a claim. Because they have stated several legally cognizable claims upon which relief might be granted, we reverse and remand in part, and affirm in part.


In May 1998, the Coghlans, residents of Texas, purchased an Aquasport 205, a type of recreational fishing boat manufactured by Wellcraft Marine Corporation. Wellcraft is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. The boat cost about $ 28,000. The Coghlans' purchase was motivated, at least in part, by Wellcraft's marketing campaign for this line of boats, which emphasized the advantages of all-fiberglass construction. In addition to rot-resistance and durability, it is generally believed among mariners that all-fiberglass boats tend to hold their value better than their wood-fiberglass hybrid counterparts.

The Coghlans [**2]  assert that they relied on Wellcraft's representations that the Aquasport 205 was made entirely of fiberglass. A few months after the purchase, they discovered that the deck of the Aquasport 205 is actually composed of 1.5 inches of plywood encased entirely within fiberglass. Disappointed by this revelation, the Coghlans filed suit against Wellcraft, seeking class certification on behalf of all similarly situated Aquasport owners.

The Coghlans' suit alleged a claim against Wellcraft under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301-2312, for breach of the implied statutory warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. They also pled state law claims for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, deceptive trade practices, unjust enrichment and civil conspiracy. In response to this laundry list of accusations, Wellcraft filed a limited motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), seeking dismissal on the pleadings of the MMWA and civil conspiracy claims.

The district court independently analyzed the pleadings and concluded that the Coghlans had failed to allege any real damages, a required element for each [**3]  of their causes of action. The court went well beyond the scope of the 12(b)(6) motion before it and sua sponte ordered all the Coghlans' claims dismissed, pending a satisfactory attempt to re-plead.

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240 F.3d 449 *; 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 1064 **; 2001 AMC 2701

FRANK E. COGHLAN, III, on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated persons; JOANNA L. COGHLAN, on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs-Appellants, versus WELLCRAFT MARINE CORPORATION; GENMAR INDUSTRIES, INC.; GENMAR HOLDINGS, INC.; AQUASPORT MARINE CORPORATION, Defendants-Appellees.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. G-99-CV-355. Samuel B Kent, US District Judge.

Disposition: AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part.


damages, benefit of the bargain, district court, boat, pleadings, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, deceptive trade practices, cognizable, fraudulent

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Abuse of Discretion, Pleading & Practice, Motion Practice, General Overview, Pleadings, Amendment of Pleadings, Leave of Court, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Federal & State Interrelationships, Choice of Law, Contracts Law, Types of Damages, Compensatory Damages, Jury Trials, Jury Instructions, Torts, Business Torts, Fraud & Misrepresentation, Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices, Unfair Business Practices, Measurement of Damages, Foreseeable Damages, Benefit of the Bargain, Breach, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Express Contracts, Remedies, Equitable Relief, Quasi Contracts, Negligent Misrepresentation, Types of Losses, Economic Losses, Class Actions, Class Attorneys, Fees, Diversity Jurisdiction, Amount in Controversy, Class Members, Named Members, Prerequisites for Class Action, Damages, Punitive Damages, Punitive Damages, Jurisdictional Amounts