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Matthew S. Wolf, On Behalf of v. Nissan Motor Acceptance

June 22, 2011

MATTHEW S. WOLF, ON BEHALF OF
HIMSELF AND ALL OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NISSAN MOTOR ACCEPTANCE
CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



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

OPINION

Plaintiff, Matthew S. Wolf, has brought a putative class action suit against Defendant, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation ("Nissan"),*fn1 alleging, inter alia, violations to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501 et seq. (or, "SCRA"). Nissan moves to dismiss or stay Wolf's claims and compel arbitration, based on a purported arbitration provision agreed upon by the parties.

For the reasons expressed below, Nissan's Motion to Dismiss or Stay is granted.

I. JURISDICTION

The Court may exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

II. BACKGROUND

Matthew S. Wolf is a captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the United States Army Reserves. On or around November 25, 2006, Wolf entered into an agreement to lease a 2007 Nissan Infiniti G35 Sedan for thirty-nine months. Among other things, the lease contained an arbitration clause mandating that all claims are subject to arbitration.

At the inception of his lease, Wolf paid $595 in "capitalized cost reduction" ("CCR"), an advance toward the lease's rent. He also prepaid other items for which, alternatively, he could have paid on a monthly basis. During the life of the lease, however, Wolf entered into active military service. On or around October 30, 2007, he returned his leased vehicle to Nissan. Moreover, Wolf invoked the SCRA. According to Wolf's complaint, the SCRA entitles military service members, like himself, to a prorated refund of lease payments made in advance. Despite Wolf's invocation of the SCRA and his provision of proper notices, Nissan refused to refund to Wolf any prorated CCR payments.

In June 2010, Wolf filed a putative class action suit against Nissan, alleging conversion and violation of the SCRA. Several months later, Nissan moved to dismiss or stay Wolf's claims and compel arbitration.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

A motion to compel arbitration may properly be considered as a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Palcko v. Airbourne Express, Inc., 372 F.3d 588, 597 (3d Cir. 2004); see also Nationwide Ins. Co. v. Patterson, 953 F.2d 44, 45 n.1 (3d Cir. 1991). When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 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, 350 (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).

A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks "'not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claim.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1953 (2009) ("Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for 'all civil actions[.]'" (citation omitted)). First, under the Twombly/Iqbal standard, a "district court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950). Second, a district court "must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a 'plausible claim for relief.'" Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950). "[A] complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief." Id. 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).

Moreover, in ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court has "'discretion to address evidence outside the complaint . . . .'" CitiSteel USA, Inc. v. General Electric Co., 78 F. App'x 832, 835 (3d Cir. 2003) (quoting Pryor v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 288 F.3d 548, 559 (3d Cir. 2002)). Thus, the court "'may consider an undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims ...


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