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Toca v. Tutco, LLC

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

March 4, 2020, Decided; March 4, 2020, Entered on Docket

Case No.: 19-cv-23949-SINGHAL/McAliley

Opinion

ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED CLASS-ACTION COMPLAINT

This is a putative class action brought against Tutco, LLC ("Tutco"), Rheem Manufacturing Company ("Rheem"), and Watsco, Inc. ("Watsco") (collectively, "Defendants") for selling defective heaters and failing to include a "non-self-resetting thermal cutoff" ("NSRT"), a safety backup switch. See Am. Compl. [*2]  ¶ 2 (DE [27]). Defendants have moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint ("Motion to Dismiss") (DE [29]). The Court has carefully reviewed the Motion, Plaintiff's Response in Opposition ("Response in Opposition") (DE [30]), and Defendants' Reply in Support ("Reply in Support") (DE [32]).

I. BACKGROUND

At some point in 2015 and in 2018, Plaintiff Mario Toca ("Toca") purchased air conditioner units (or "HVAC units") for both his business and his residence.1 See Am. Compl. ¶ 13 (DE [27]); Mot. 2 (DE [29]). Rheem manufactures the HVAC units and they are distributed and wholesaled by Watsco. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 15-16 (DE [27]). The third named defendant, Tutco, manufactures the heater component of the HVAC units, which is sold to Rheem and installed in the HVAC units. Id. ¶ 14.

According to Toca, the HVAC units placed in the market by Rheem and Watsco that contain Tutco's heaters "are defective, presenting real health and safety risks to consumers." Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n 1 (DE [30]). Worse, actually; they are "ticking time bombs" in houses and places of business. Am. Compl. ¶ 36 (DE [27]).

These units present this danger because they do not include NSRTs. See, e.g., id. ¶¶ 28; Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n [*3]  2 (DE [30]). NSRTs are the "fail safe" mechanisms that regulate the HVAC units when automatically-resetting temperature limiting controls ("ART") fail. Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n 2 (DE [30]); see also Am. Compl. ¶ 20-22 (DE [27]). Basically, "ARTs are designed to act as an internal thermostat." Am. Compl. ¶ 21 (DE [27]). When the "cycling" process of the air conditioner overheats, the unit potentially can ignite. Id. ¶ 23. Apparently, NSRTs "guard against this well known, dangerous, and life-threatening issue." Id. ¶ 24.

Without any allegations that the HVAC units malfunctioned, caused personal injury or property damage, nor any allegations of the amount he allegedly overpaid for "safer" HVAC units, Toca filed this multi-count complaint against Defendants for various causes of action. The seven counts include: (1) breach of express warranty; (2) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability; (3) violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act ("MMWA"), see 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301-2312, for breach of a written warranty; (4) violations of the MMWA for breach of an implied warranty; (5) injunctive and declaratory relief; (6) unjust enrichment; and (7) violation of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act ("FDUTPA"), [*4]  see Fla. Stat. §§ 501.201-.213. Defendants now move to dismiss the claims.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37176 *; 430 F. Supp. 3d 1313; 2020 WL 1041502

MARIO TOCA, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. TUTCO, LLC, RHEEM MANUFACTURING COMPANY and WATSCO, INC., Defendants.

Subsequent History: Motion denied by, As moot, Dismissed by, in part Toca v. Tutco, Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48801 (S.D. Fla., Mar. 19, 2020)

CORE TERMS

warranty, notice, manufacturer, seller, pre-suit, heaters, enrichment, merchantability, buyer, unjust, privity, malfunctioned, consumers, certificate, declaratory, thermal, cutoff, air