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William Mickens, et al v. Ford Motor Company

August 5, 2011

WILLIAM MICKENS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY,
DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Before the Court is defendant Ford Motor Company's ("Ford" or "Defendant") motion to dismiss ("Motion to Dismiss") the Class Action Complaint of plaintiff William Mickens ("Mickens" or "Plaintiff") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a). This Court, having considered the parties' submissions, decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. Plaintiff will have thirty days to amend the Complaint.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On December 27, 2004, Defendant Ford published a Technical Service Bulletin ("TSB"), disseminated only to authorized Ford dealers, announcing that twelve Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury models from 2000-2004 "may exhibit a bubbling or blistering under the paint on aluminum body parts" as a result of "iron contamination of the aluminum panel." (Compl. at ¶¶ 15, 16, 22.) On September 29, 2005, Plaintiff purchased a new 2006 Ford Mustang from Fette Ford in Clifton, New Jersey. (Id. at ¶ 40.) Plaintiff's purchase included coverage under Ford's "Bumper to Bumper" warranty (the "Warranty"). (Id. at ¶ 41.) The Warranty provided that "authorized Ford Motor Company dealers will repair, replace, or adjust all parts on [the] vehicle that are defective in factory-supplied materials or workmanship" within three-years of purchase or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. (Id. at ¶ 34.) On December 11, 2006, Defendant published a second TSB-again, disseminated only to authorized Ford dealers-announcing that fourteen Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury models from 2000-2007 "may exhibit a bubbling or blistering under the paint on aluminum body parts" as a result of "iron contamination of the aluminum panel." (Id. at ¶¶ 23, 24, 30.)

In June 2008, while still covered under the Warranty, Plaintiff noticed galvanic corrosion*fn1 on the hood of his car and subsequently delivered the car to Fette Ford for repairs. (Compl. at ¶ 42.) In compliance with the Warranty, Fette Ford performed a repair that temporarily cured the galvanic corrosion problem. (Id. at ¶ 42.) However, in June 2009, after the three-year life of the Warranty expired, Plaintiff again noticed galvanic corrosion on the hood of his car and returned it to Fette Ford for a second repair. (Id. at ¶ 43.) This second time, Fette Ford was unable to repair the galvanic corrosion despite attempts to do so. (Id.)

Between August 2009 and December 2009, Plaintiff's hood showed signs of worsening galvanic corrosion. (Compl. at ¶ 44.) Seeking to repair this problem, Plaintiff took his car back to Fette Ford at least three times. (Id.) Fette Ford was unable to repair the hood. (Id.)

Plaintiff contacted Defendant Ford in December 2009 and January 2010 to notify the company of the problem. (Id. at ¶ 47.) Defendant responded by directing Plaintiff to Fette Ford's service manager to arrange for further repairs. (Id.) After a series of communications, in May 2010, Fette Ford's service manager informed Plaintiff that he would either have to purchase a new hood or pay for any further corrosion-related repairs himself. (Id. at ¶ 48.) Plaintiff chose not to make these repairs. (See id. at ¶ 50.) Instead, the galvanic corrosion problem on Plaintiff's hood persists to this day. (Id. at ¶ 51.)

On November 11, 2010, Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a two-count Class Action Complaint (the "Complaint").*fn2 (Id. at ¶ 54.) The First Count alleges a violation of the New Jersey "Lemon Law" (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 56:12-44 (West 2011)), which is actionable under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("CFA") (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 56:8-1 et seq. (West 2011)) for Defendant Ford's failure to properly certify a known defect with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety. (Compl.at ¶¶ 63-71.) The Second Count alleges unjust enrichment, essentially under the theory that Defendant, by selling a product it knew to be defective, reaped unfair benefits to the detriment of the Class.*fn3 (Id. at ¶¶ 72-77.) On January 28, 2011, Defendant filed the current Motion to Dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). On January 31, 2011, Ford filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's class certification and dismiss or strike Plaintiff's class allegations ("Motion to Strike"). On March 18, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion to stay Ford's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's class certification and dismiss or strike Plaintiff's class allegations ("Motion to Stay").

LEGAL STANDARD

The adequacy of pleadings is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), which requires that a complaint allege "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." This Rule "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted); Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (Rule 8 "requires a ‗showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief").

In considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must "‗accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231 (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n. 7 (3d Cir. 2002)). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by ...


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