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Dwight Simonson, On Behalf of Himself, and All Others Similarly v. the Hertz Corporation

March 28, 2011

DWIGHT SIMONSON, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF, AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE HERTZ CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants' The Hertz Corporation (hereinafter "Hertz"), American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (hereinafter "ATS") and PlatePass, LLC (hereinafter "PlatePass") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint [Doc. 11]. Defendants move for dismissal because Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Specifically, Defendants contend Plaintiff failed to properly plead his breach of contract, New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and unjust enrichment claims. For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' Motion will be denied.*fn1

I. JURISDICTION

This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C.

§§ 1332(d)(2), (5), and (6), which provide jurisdiction over class actions in which the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000, the proposed class of plaintiffs includes more than 100 members*fn2 and any member of the alleged plaintiff class is a citizen of a State different from any defendant.

Plaintiff, Dwight Simonson, is a citizen of North Carolina. Defendant Hertz is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Defendant ATS is a Kansas corporation with its principal place of business in Scottsdale, Arizona. Defendant PlatePass is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in Scottsdale, Arizona. The amount in controversy is in excess of $5,000,000.

II. BACKGROUND*fn3

This case arises from Hertz's*fn4 decision to partner with ATS to implement a service, PlatePass,*fn5 in all Hertz rental cars. PlatePass enables Hertz rental car customers to use an electronic toll payment service and thereby utilize the high-speed, cashless electronic toll lanes on roads and highways without having to stop and pay the toll with cash.

On June 23, 2009, Plaintiff, Dwight Simonson,*fn6 traveled from North Carolina to Orlando, Florida and rented a vehicle from Hertz at the Orlando International Airport. To effectuate the rental, Simonson entered into a written rental contract with Hertz. This contract, a preprinted rental agreement, provided, among other things, that Plaintiff authorizes Hertz "to release [Plaintiff's] rental and charge card information to our designated vendor, American Traffic Solutions for the exclusive purpose of processing and billing tolls, parking or traffic violation fines and penalties and related administrative fees incurred during the term of [Plaintiff's] rental." (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 34). Neither the contract nor Hertz sales staff ever disclosed to Plaintiff, nor was he aware, that his Hertz rental vehicle was pre-enrolled and activated with PlatePass. Defendants' contract also did not disclose to Plaintiff that either the use of his rental vehicle or the PlatePass electronic toll collection service would result in a per diem administrative service fee that would even incur on days when Plaintiff did not utilize PlatePass.

Sometime between June 23, 2009 and June 29, 2009, Plaintiff traveled through a toll lane and triggered the PlatePass system. Approximately one month later, Plaintiff received an invoice from ATS for $10.75, a $0.75 toll and $10.00 service charge. Unsure of why he received this bill, Plaintiff contacted ATS. He was subsequently informed that his Hertz rental vehicle was enabled with PlatePass and he was charged a $10.00 fee for his utilization of the service. The receipt of this bill was when Plaintiff first learned about the administrative fees associated with PlatePass. Unaware of the facts and circumstances relating to the imposition of PlatePass fees, Plaintiff paid ATS $10.75. Plaintiff states that if he was aware of the fees, "he would have not incurred or paid the charges or rented from Hertz." (Doc. 1,Compl. ¶ 43).

On March 26, 2010, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Hertz, ATS and PlatePass alleging breach of contract, consumer fraud and unjust enrichment. Plaintiff primarily contends that the PlatePass electronic toll services were not adequately disclosed in the parties' agreement, and that Defendants impermissibly imposed administrative fees for times and amounts that were never disclosed or were misrepresented, including days when the PlatePass system was never utilized. On June 22, 2010, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

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). 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 ...


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