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Callahan v. Shepherd

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 9, 2018

PETER CALLAHAN and JOSEPHINE SASSO CALLAHAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
SUSAN SHEPHERD and MARK HART, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Denise J. Casper United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiffs Peter Callahan and Josephine Sasso Callahan (“the Callahans”) have filed this lawsuit against Defendants Susan Shepherd (“Shepherd”) and Mark Hart (“Hart”) (collectively, “Defendants”) alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of express and implied warranties, negligence, and violations of Mass. Gen. L. c. 93A and Mass. Gen. L. c. 142A. D. 1. Shepherd and Hart now move to dismiss for failure to state a claim. D. 16. For the reasons stated below and as noted at the September 24, 2018 status conference, D. 30, the Court DENIES the motion except to the extent that Count III alleges a claim for breach of an express warranty.

         II. Standard of Review

         The Court will grant a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) if the complaint fails to plead sufficient facts that “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The Court “must assume the truth of all well-plead[ed] facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Ruiz v. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999)). “Exhibits attached to the complaint are properly considered part of the pleading ‘for all purposes,' including Rule 12(b)(6).” Pare v. Northborough Capital Partners, LLC, 133 F.Supp.3d 334, 336 (D. Mass. 2015) (quoting Trans-Spec Truck Serv., Inc. v. Caterpillar, Inc., 524 F.3d 315, 321 (1st Cir. 2008)).

         III. Factual Background

         The following facts are taken from the complaint, D. 1, and accepted as true for the purpose of considering the motion to dismiss. The Callahans reside in New York City and own a residential dwelling on Nantucket, Massachusetts (“the Property”). D. 1 ¶¶ 2, 3, 8. Since 2005, the Callahans have used the Property as a second home during vacations and holidays. D. 1 ¶ 9. In September 2015, the Callahans entered into an agreement with the Defendants for the Defendants to make certain home improvements to the Property. D. 1 ¶ 10. Although the parties “attempted to reduce their agreement to writing” and the Defendants “drafted and presented a written agreement, ” that written agreement was never signed by either the Callahans or the Defendants. D. 1 ¶ 10. In October 2015, the parties expanded the scope of improvements to be performed and drafted a Scope of Work document dated October 28, 2015. D. 1 ¶ 11. The Scope of Work lists the address of the Property, the date (10/28/2015), and a list of tasks with accompanying prices. D. 1-1 at 2.

         As alleged, the Defendants promised that the improvements detailed in the Scope of Work would be completed by May 15, 2016. D. 1 ¶ 12. Those improvements were not completed by this due date. D. 1 ¶ 13. The Callahans allege that some of the work was done “incompletely, negligently or in an unworkmanlike manner;” that some of the improvements made by the Defendants were never approved by the Callahans or part of the scope of work and that the Callahans were double-billed for some of the improvements. D. 1 ¶¶ 14-17. The Callahans further allege that due to the delay in completing the improvements and the unworkmanlike quality of the improvements, the Property was uninhabitable as of May 15, 2016 and will again become uninhabitable when further work is undertaken there to complete and repair the work that the Defendants should have done properly. D. 1 ¶ 18. Finally, the Callahans allege that it will cost over $200, 000 to complete the improvements and correct the improperly completed work by the Defendants. D. 1 ¶ 19.

         IV. Procedural History

         The Callahans filed this complaint on March 24, 2017. D. 1. On February 23, 2018, the Court denied the Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. D. 11. The Defendants have now moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. D. 16. On June 22, 2018, the Court heard argument from the parties regarding the Defendants' motion to dismiss and took the matter under advisement. D. 27. At the recent status conference, D. 30, the Court informed counsel of its ruling on this motion, but this memorandum explains the reasons for that ruling.

         V. Discussion

         The Callahans bring claims of breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of express and implied warranties, negligence, violation of Chapter 142A and violation of Chapter 93A. D. 1. Since the Defendants move to dismiss all of these claims, D. 16, the Court addresses each of these claims in turn.

         A. Breach of Contract (Count I)

         To state a claim for a breach of contract under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff must allege that “a valid, binding contract existed, the defendant breached the terms of the contract, and the plaintiff sustained damages as a result of the breach.” Young v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 717 F.3d 224, 232 (1st Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). The Defendants contend that the complaint fails to state a claim for breach of ...


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