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Products liability - Boots - Prison commissary.

Byline: Mass. Lawyers Weekly Staff

Where a plaintiff prison inmate filed an eight-count complaint concerning a pair of allegedly defective workboots purchased from the prison commissary operator, an order dismissing the complaint must be reversed in part, as the complaint plausibly alleged a breach of express warranty and breach of contract by the defendant manufacturer.

"The plaintiff, Joseph Puleio, an inmate at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Concord (MCI-Concord), filed an eight-count complaint concerning a pair of allegedly defective workboots manufactured by defendant Timberland Corporation (Timberland) and purchased from the prison commissary operator, defendant Keefe Commissary Network Sales (Keefe). On Timberland's and Keefe's motions, a Superior Court judge dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted; on the Department of Correction (DOC) defendants' later motion, a second judge dismissed the complaint as to them in a margin endorsement.

" The first amended complaint asserted claims for (1) breach of express warranty; (2) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability; (3) breach of contract; (4) unjust enrichment; (5) fraud and deceit; (6) product liability; (7) intentional interference with contractual relations; and (8) unfair or deceptive business practices by Timberland and Keefe in violation of G.L.c. 93A.

"The complaint plausibly alleged a breach of express warranty by Timberland.

"For substantially the reasons discussed above in connection with the express warranty claim, we conclude that the complaint stated a claim against Timberland for breach of contract.

" Puleio argues that the defendants were unjustly enriched because they sold him a defective pair of boots with a lifetime warranty and then deprived him of the benefit of that warranty, thus unjustly retaining the amount he paid for the boots (or at least the portion of that amount that corresponds to the cost of warranty coverage). As for Timberland, the allegations underlying Puleio's express warranty and contract claims, see supra, were also sufficient to state a claim that Timberland's retention of a portion of the boots' purchase price was unjust and inequitable.

"As for Keefe, the complaint alleged that Keefe profited from the sale of the defective boots.

" The complaint thus stated unjust enrichment claims against both Keefe and Timberland. Of course, whether Puleio can prove either or both claims remains to be seen.

"As against DOC, however, the unjust enrichment claim was properly dismissed, because the complaint did not plausibly allege that DOC had received any money from the original sale of the boots to Puleio.

"Insofar as the judgment dismisses counts two, five, six, seven, and eight of the complaint, it is affirmed.

"Insofar as the judgment dismisses count four of the complaint, it is vacated as to all parties, including the DOC defendants. Insofar as the judgment dismisses counts one and three, it is vacated as to Timberland Corporation and the DOC defendants. The case is remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this memorandum and order."

Puleio v. Timberland Corporation, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 81-015-19) (18 pages) (Docket No. 17-P-908) (Jan. 18, 2019).

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Title Annotation:Puleio v. Timberland Corp., Massachusetts Appeals Court
Publication:Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
Date:Jan 23, 2019
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