Judge Dismisses Some Claims in Farm Equipment Fraud Case Before Transfer

A lawsuit purporting that AGCO and its authorized dealer misrepresented hours used when selling farm equipment was removed from the District Court of Oklahoma County to the Texas Northern District on Tuesday. Along with the removal, the Oklahoma court dismissed some claims, resolving motions to dismiss but leaving the option for the complaint to be amended. 

John Craig First, his wife, Lacey First, and their company, First Farms and Trucking LLC, filed the lawsuit against AGCO Corporation and Rolling Plains Implement Company, an authorized dealer of AGCO products.  The plaintiffs claimed that they purchased a previously-owned combine and header from the defendants who misrepresented the number of hours that the machine had been used. 

According to the complaint, the defendants “‘rolled back’ the number of hours shown on the machine’s hour meter.” The combine and header reportedly caused the plaintiffs issues and eventually broke down. The plaintiffs took it to a repair facility where a worker established that the hours the machine had actually been used “substantially exceeded” the number that the plaintiffs received from the defendants. 

The matter was moved to Texas courts by the defendants who cited diversity jurisdiction, which was not challenged by the defendants. According to the court’s order, the defendants have filed multiple motions to dismiss the allegations which claimed that the petition fails to state a claim against them. Rolling Plains also asked the court to dismiss the case because of the lack of personal jurisdiction, the Oklahoma court, however, found that the plaintiff sufficiently showed personal jurisdiction because although Rolling Plains is located in Texas, it is near Tillman County, Oklahoma and “routinely conducts business” in the area. 

The Order moving the case did note that as none of the defendants are residents of Oklahoma and the purchase contract was negotiated and signed in Texas that the case should be transferred. 

Before transferring the lawsuit, Judge Joe Heaton of the Western District of Oklahoma did grant motions to dismiss the claims of Lacey First and First Farms and Trucking LLC because the allegations did not include a basis for the court to conclude that they had interest in the purchase contract. The court also agreed with some defendants that the fraud claims are insufficiently pleaded, as “more than conclusory references to a civil conspiracy is required.” The court ruled that the plaintiffs could file an amended complaint to address these deficiencies. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Wilson Cain & Acquaviva and Kevin T. Bennett. AGCO is represented by Ball Morse Lowe, McCalla Brown Patel, and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. Rolling Plains is represented by Whitworth Wilson & Evans, McDermott Will & Emery, and Edmonds Cole Hargrave Givens Witzke Ryan & Woodson. AGCO Finance is represented by Reynolds Ridings Vogt & McCart. AmTrust Financial Services, Wesco Insurance Company, and AMT Warranty Corp are represented by Hiltgen & Brewer