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Darrick Enterprises v. Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

January 19, 2007

DARRICK ENTERPRISES, D/B/A VINELAND MITSUBISHI, GREGORY A. MORRETT, RICHARD J. HESS, AND DARLENE J. HESS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORPORATION, MITSUBISHI MOTORS NORTH AMERICA, INC., AND MITSUBISHI MOTORS CREDIT OF AMERICA, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

Presently before the Court is the motion of Defendant Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for a more definite statement pursuant to Rule 12(e). Also before the Court is the motion of Defendant Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America, Inc. to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint pursuant to the Colorado River abstention doctrine, and the motion of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) and for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' motions will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Gregory Morrett, Richard Hess, and Darlene Hess ("Individual Plaintiffs") owned and operated Vineland Mitsubishi, a Mitsubishi Motors automobile dealership incorporated under the corporate entity of Darrick Enterprises ("Corporation Plaintiff"). The dealership opened in 2001, but closed in 2004.*fn1

Plaintiffs blame the failure of their dealership on Defendants Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., and Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America, Inc.

On September 7, 2005, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Defendants, claiming that they violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act, and the Automobile Dealers' Day in Court Act. Plaintiffs also allege claims for fraud, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that Defendants fraudulently induced them into opening the Mitsubishi franchise dealership by making various misrepresentations. Plaintiffs also claim that when they operated the dealership, Defendants breached their contract by requiring Plaintiffs to unnecessarily construct a new facility, "dumping" unordered new cars, and having to participate in a financially unsound financing program.*fn2

In response to Plaintiffs' Complaint, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. ("MMNA") and Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America, Inc. ("Mitsubishi Credit") each filed a Federal Civil Procedure Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint. During the pendency of those motions, on February 14, 2006 Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint, which added claims under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") and New Jersey state RICO statute. MMNA and Mitsubishi have renewed their motions to dismiss all of Plaintiffs' claims, and Defendant Mitsubishi Motors Corporation ("Mitsubishi Motors") has filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint under Rule 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction and under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.

II. STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM UPON WHICH RELIEF MAY BE GRANTED

When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir. 2005). A court may not dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957) (citations omitted).

It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).

Under the liberal federal pleading rules, it is not necessary to plead evidence, and it is not necessary to plead all the facts that serve as a basis for the claim. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 562 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977). However, "[a]lthough the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a claimant to set forth an intricately detailed description of the asserted basis for relief, they do require that the pleadings 'give defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Baldwin County Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147, 149-50 n.3 (1984) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 47). A court need not credit either "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions" in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss. In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997). The defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented. Hedges v. U.S., 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).

Finally, a court in reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must only consider the facts alleged in the pleadings, the documents attached thereto as exhibits, and matters of judicial notice. Southern Cross Overseas Agencies, Inc. v. Kwong Shipping Group Ltd., 181 F.3d 410, 426 (3d Cir. 1999). A court may consider, however, "an undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the document." Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). If any other matters outside the pleadings are presented to the court, and the court does not exclude those matters, a Rule 12(b)(6) motion will be treated as a summary judgment motion pursuant to Rule 56. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Mitsubishi Motors of North America's ...


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