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Gabriella Tatum and Jamie v. Chrysler Group LLC.

March 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dennis M. Cavanaugh




This matter comes before the Court upon motion by Chrysler Group, LLC 's("Defendant") motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78, no oral argument was heard. For the reasons contained herein, Defendant's motion to dismiss is denied in part and granted in part.


The named Plaintiffs, representing a class of people who purchased Chyrsler LLC's Dodge Journey cross-over vehicle after March, 2008, allege that the car's braking system was inherently flawed because the brake pads and rotors are too small and thin to handle the braking duties required by the size and weight of the Journey. Plaintiff's allege that the brakes on their Journeys required expensive and frequent repairs that they did not anticipate. Plaintiff's allege that they were induced to buy the class vehicle by Defendant's advertisements, which touted the Journey as safe, durable and reliable, and indicated that it could be driven to Peru or Rio de Janeiro. Plaintiff maintains that Defendant was, or should have been, aware of this defect, and should have notified consumers of it prior to their purchase of the car. Defendant maintains that the braking system was not defective, that the brakes routinely outlasted their sales warranty, and that the advertising was not intended to create a literal representation, but was merely puffery. Plaintiff's invoke the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, as well as a comparable California statute, the Unfair Competition Law. Plaintiff's also allege violations of the Magnuson-Moss Act, 15 U.S.C. 2301, as well as California's Legal Remedies Act, and a breach of express warranty.


A. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)

"The [d]istrict [c]court, in deciding a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), [is] required to accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all inferences in the facts alleged in the light most favorable to the [Plaintiff]." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, [ ] a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "[A court is] not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above a speculative level, [ ] on the assumption that all factual allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Bell at 555-56. The Complaint must set forth direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 562, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). That said, something more than a mere possibility of a claim must be alleged; the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id at 570.

B. Fed. R. Civ. P.9(b)

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) all averments of fraud must be stated with particularity. "Rule 9(b)'s heightened pleading standard gives defendants notice of the claims against them, provides an increased measure of protection for their reputations, and reduces the number of frivolous suits brought solely to extract settlements." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1418 (3d Cir.1997) (citations omitted). Rule 9(b) can be satisfied by describing the circumstances of the alleged fraud with precise allegations of date, time, or place, or by using some means of injecting precision and some measure of substantiation into the fraud allegations. Board of Trustees of Teamsters Local 863 Pension Fund v. Foodtown, Inc., 296 F.3d 164, 173 n. 10 (3d Cir.2002).


Defendant asks the Court to dismiss this complaint based on seven discrete grounds that the Court will address in turn.

Defendant's first argument is that Chrysler LLC. came into existence as the result of an asset purchase agreement between "Old Carco." and Chrysler, and that pursuant to that agreement Chrysler cannot be held liable for obligations that existed prior to the bankruptcy reorganization that created Chrysler as it is presently constituted. If Defendant were correct about the ...

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