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Marconi v. Brandywine Chrysler Jeep, Inc.

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

November 7, 2014

ANTOINETTE MARCONI, and ROY MARCONI Plaintiffs,
v.
BRANDYWINE CHRYSLER JEEP, INC., CHRYSLER GROUP, LLC, and JIFFY LUBE SERVICE CENTER #312, Defendants.

Submitted: September 19, 2014

Matthew M. Bartkowski, Esq. Heather Long, Esq. Kimmel, Carter, Roman & Peltz, P.A. Attorneys for Plaintiffs

Matthew E. O’Byrne, Esq. Casarino, Christman & Shalk Attorney for Defendant Jiffy Lube

Nichole T. Whetham Warner, Esq. Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin Attorney for Chrysler Defendants

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Alex J. Smalls Chief Judge

This is an appeal from the Justice of the Peace Court pursuant to 10 Del. C § 9571. Plaintiffs Antoinette and Roy Marconi ("Plaintiffs") brought this breach of contract action against Defendants Brandywine Chrysler Jeep, Inc. and Chrysler Group, LLC (collectively, "the Chrysler Defendants") and Defendant Jiffy Lube Service Center #312 ("Jiffy Lube") for damages to Plaintiffs vehicle, which was sold and manufactured by the Chrysler Defendants, and serviced by Jiffy Lube.

On October 9, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal from an Order of the Justice of the Peace Court dismissing with prejudice Plaintiffs' case against the Chrysler Defendants, holding that the statute of limitations had run.

On December 16, 2013, the Chrysler Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss ("the Motion") arguing that the Court does not have jurisdiction over this matter because Plaintiffs failed to perfect the appeal under Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 72.3(c) and the mirror image rule, and that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the statute of limitations pursuant to 6 Del. C § 2-725. On September 19, 2014, this Court held a hearing on the Motion. The Court found that Plaintiffs complied with Rule 72.3(c), however it reserved decision on the Chrysler Defendants' mirror image rule argument and statute of limitations argument.

At the hearing, the parties stipulated that with regard to the Chrysler Defendants' statute of limitations argument, the Motion relied on matters outside of the pleadings, thereby converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment.[1]Accordingly, the Court afforded Plaintiffs ten days to file a supplemental argument, and the Chrysler Defendants to file a supplemental affidavit.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 19, 2009, Plaintiffs purchased a 2008 Chrysler Pacifica ("vehicle") from Defendant Brandywine Chrysler Jeep, Inc. ("Brandywine Chrysler"). This vehicle was manufactured by Defendant Chrysler Group, LLC ("Chrysler Group, LLC"). On April 18, 2012 the Plaintiffs took the vehicle to be serviced at Jiffy Lube, and Jiffy Lube changed the vehicle's oil and oil filter.[2] On December 15, 2012, about three years and six months after purchasing the vehicle, Plaintiffs brought the vehicle to Brandywine Chrysler stating that the 'check engine' light was on, and that the engine stalled while driving and subsequently would not start.[3] Upon inspection, Brandywine Chrysler observed damage to the crank-shaft and "oil starvation" in the engine.[4] Plaintiffs however, "declined further work, " as evidenced by an invoice from Brandywine Chrysler.[5] At that point, the Chrysler Defendants denied coverage of the engine repair, and Plaintiffs brought this breach of contract action.[6]

On March 22, 2013 Plaintiffs filed a complaint in the Justice of the Peace Court against the Chrysler Defendants and Jiffy Lube. Plaintiffs' complaint alleged that "the defendants improperly repaired, maintained and/or manufactured the plaintiffs [sic] 2008 Chrysler causing the engine to malfunction."[7] Plaintiffs sought damages for the cost of the engine repair and the cost of the rental car that Plaintiffs used while the repairs were being made on their vehicle.

On September 24, 2013, the Justice of the Peace Court dismissed the action after finding that Plaintiffs' claims were barred by the statute of limitations pursuant to 6 Del.C§, 2-725. The court concluded that Plaintiffs' claims were filed two years after the expiration of the four-year statute of limitations because Plaintiffs filed their complaint on March 22, 2013, and the cause of action accrued on September 24, 2007.

On October 9, 2013, Plaintiffs filed the Complaint on Appeal in this Court, maintaining that the vehicle "suffered catastrophic failure" after the 'check engine' light turned on, and that Brandywine Chrysler and Jiffy Lube were negligent in servicing and inspecting the vehicle. Plaintiffs also allege that the Chrysler Defendants breached express or implied warranties for the vehicle. Plaintiffs also aver that the Chrysler Defendants "failed to warn the [P]laintiffs below, appellants[, ] of the potential ha2ard existing in the engine of the 2008 Chrysler Pacifica, " and that they ...


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