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Ramon v. Budget Rent-A-Car System

February 20, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martini, U.S.D.J.



This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Budget Rent-A-Car System's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Class Action Complaint in its entirety pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff opposes the motion. The Court adjudicates this matter on the papers. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the reasons expressed herein, Defendant's motion is GRANTED in its entirety, and Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED.


The Complaint alleges that on or about February 15, 2006, Plaintiff Andrew G. Ramon reserved a car online at Defendant's website,, to be picked up at a Budget-affiliated location at 4437 Fredericksburg Road in San Antonio, Texas. (Compl. ¶ 7.) According to the rental agreement Plaintiff signed,*fn1 Plaintiff picked up the vehicle on February 21, 2006 and returned it on February 23, 2006. (Sellers Aff. Ex. A [hereinafter "Ex. A"].)

The rental agreement noted that gasoline was not included in the rate, and that the renter was required to furnish all gas including a refill of the tank upon return of the vehicle. (Ex. A.)At the time he entered into the agreement, Plaintiff had two options regarding fuel - he could either pre-purchase a full tank of gas (the "fuel purchase option"), or return the car with a full tank. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-10.) Plaintiff declined the fuel purchase option, and returned the car with less than a full tank. Pursuant to the agreement, a refueling service charge of $11.42 was imposed when Plaintiff returned the car. (Compl. ¶ 7, Ex. A.) This charge reflected a price of $5.99 per gallon for the fuel, a rate which was clearly disclosed on the front of the agreement signed by Plaintiff. (Ex. A.)

According to the Complaint, if Plaintiff had elected the fuel purchase option, he would have been charged a rate of $2.14 per gallon for the pre-paid tank of fuel. (Compl. ¶ 9.) Under the lease agreement, a renter who elects this option and pays for a full tank in advance does not receive credit for any fuel remaining in the tank when the car is returned. (Ex. A.)

Alleging under several theories that the refueling service charge is fraudulent and illegal, Plaintiff brings this class action on behalf of himself and all persons who have rented vehicles from Budget and have been subjected to a refueling service charge. The five-count complaint against Budget Rent-A-Car System, Inc. alleges (1) violations of the New Jersey Uniform Commercial Code, (2) common law breach of contract, (3) unjust enrichment, and (4) violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and also (5) requests equitable and declaratory relief. Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint in its entirety pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) is now before the Court.


I. Standard for Dismissal Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claims or to permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). In deciding such a motion, a court must take all allegations in complaint as true, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975). A court need not, however, accept legal or unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

While we are required to assume the truth of all factual allegations in the complaint, "we need not accept as true 'unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences.'" City of Pittsburgh v. West Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 n.13 (3d Cir. 1998) (quoting Schuylkill Energy Res., Inc. v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Co., 113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997)). "'[C]courts have an obligation in matters before them to view the complaint as a whole and to base rulings not upon the presence of mere words but, rather, upon the presence of a factual situation which is or is not justiciable. We do draw on the allegations of the complaint, but in a realistic, rather than a slavish, manner.'" Grant, Inc. v. Greate Bay Casino Corp., 232 F.3d 173, 184 (3d Cir. 2000) (quoting West Penn Power, 147 F.3d at 263).

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court may consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents if the plaintiff's claims are based upon those documents. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). Additionally, "[a]lthough a District Court may not consider matters extraneous to the pleadings, 'a document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint may be considered without converting the motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment.'" U.S. Express Lines Ltd. v. Higgins, 281 F.3d 383, 388 (3d Cir. 2002) (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997)) (internal quotations omitted).

Although Plaintiff's Complaint does not attach any exhibits, it both explicitly references and depends upon the documents attached as exhibits to the Affidavit of John Sellers, submitted with Defendant's motion to dismiss. Therefore, the Court has considered these documents in its analysis.*fn2 "Plaintiffs cannot prevent a court from looking at the texts of the documents on which its claim is based by failing to attach or explicitly cite them." In re Burlington Coat Factory, 114 F.3d at 1426. Furthermore, to the extent that Plaintiff's allegations are contradicted by such documents upon which Plaintiff's claims are based, the Court need not accept such allegations as true. See ...

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