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Philip Green, On Behalf of Himself and All Others Similarly v. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

December 20, 2011

PHILIP GREEN, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GREEN MOUNTAIN COFFEE ROASTERS, INC., AND KEURIG, INC.,
DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

Before the Court is Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., and Keurig, Inc.‟s, (collectively "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Philip Green‟s ("Plaintiff" or "Green") individual claims and class action allegations pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted ("Motions"). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391. These Motions are decided without oral argument pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the reasons stated below, this Court grants Defendants‟ Motions.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Defendants are "in the specialty coffee and coffee maker businesses." (Compl. ¶ 12.) They manufacture "single-cup brewers, accessories and coffee, tea, cocoa and other beverages in K-Cup portion packs." (Id. ¶ 16.) In addition to manufacturing, Defendants also market and sell their products "in domestic wholesale and retail channels, [supermarkets], and directly to consumers." (Id. ¶¶ 15, 21.) At the heart of this lawsuit are the following single-cup brewing systems Defendants manufacture and sell: Keurig® Platinum Brewing System (model series B70), Keurig Special Edition Brewing System (model series B60), Keurig Elite Brewing System (model series B40), Keurig B155 Brewing System, Keurig OfficePROTM Brewing System, Keurig MINI Plus Brewing System (model series B31), Keurig B130 In-Room Brewing System, Keurig B150 Brewing System, Keurig BI40 Brewing System, Breville Brewing System with Keurig Brewed® Technology, Cuisinart® Brewing System with Keurig Brewed Technology, Mr. Coffee® Brewing System with Keurig Brewed Technology, and the Keurig B200 Brewing System (collectively the "Keurig Brewing Systems"). (Id. ¶ 1.)

According to Green, Defendants advertised on their websites and the brewers‟ packaging that "one K-Cup would brew a programmed quantity of coffee." (Id. ¶ 8; see also id. ¶¶ 22-27.) Based on these representations, Plaintiff asserts that he purchased a Keurig® Platinum Brewing System (model series B70) in or around January 2011. (Id. ¶ 8.) However, Green maintains that his machine failed to brew the programmed amounts of K-Cup® coffee within a few weeks of use. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that the machines had "defective components, including defective pumps." (Id. ¶ 28.) As a result, the machines failed and brewed less than the specified amount. (Id.) Furthermore, this defect allegedly caused "consumers to use additional K-Cups® to brew a single beverage." (Id. ¶ 2.) Green submits that other consumers complained to Defendants about the defective machines and Defendants were aware that the brewing machines were defective. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 45.)

Defendants provide a one-year no-cost limited warranty for the Keurig Brewing Systems that allows Defendants, at their option, to repair or replace the machine. The warranty provides in relevant part:

Keurig warrants that your Keurig Home Brewer will be free of defects in materials or workmanship under normal home use for one year from the date of purchase. Keurig will, at its option, repair or replace the Brewer without charge upon its receipt of proof of the date of purchase. If a replacement Brewer is necessary to service this warranty, the replacement Brewer may be new or reconditioned. If a replacement Brewer is sent, it will carry a One Year Warranty from the date of shipment. Keurig will cover all shipping costs for authorized returns. (Defs.‟ Br. Ex. A.)*fn1

Nonetheless, Plaintiff has not taken advantage of the warranty. According to Green, other consumers who were serviced under the warranty had their machines "replaced with unused, but equally defective" machines. (Compl. ¶ 4.)

Consequently, on April 11, 2011, Green initiated this action on behalf of himself and others in the State of New Jersey who "purchased or received" Keurig Brewing Systems from February 18, 2008 to the present. (Id. ¶ 58, Pl.‟s Opp‟n Br. 1 n.2.)*fn2 Plaintiff maintains that Defendants‟ actions are in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("CFA"), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 56:8-1, et seq., and constitute a breach of implied warranty and unjust enrichment.

LEGAL STANDARD

The adequacy of pleadings is governed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 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." See also Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (stating that Rule 8 "requires a "showing‟ rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief"). In considering a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 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 mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)) ("Twombly"). If the "well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct," the complaint should be dismissed for failing to "show[] that the pleader is entitled to relief" as required by Rule 8(a)(2). Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950 (internal quotation marks omitted). According to the Supreme Court in Twombly, "[w]hile 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[or her] "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." 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). Furthermore, the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. The Third Circuit summarized the Twombly pleading standard as follows: ""stating . . . a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest‟ the required element." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Moreover, Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b)‟s pleading requirements apply to CFA claims. See, eg., Frederico v. Home Depot, 507 F.3d 188, 200 (3d Cir. 2007). Rule 9(b) requires that "[i]n alleging fraud or mistake, a party must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake." Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b).

DISCUSSION

1.Standing

Pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, the Court may exercise jurisdiction only where there is an actual case or controversy. Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103, 108 (1969). Standing is a "threshold question," Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975), and "[t]he party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden" of proof. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). To meet this burden, "the irreducible constitutional minimum of standing" involving three elements must be established. Id. at 560.

First, the plaintiff must have suffered an injury in fact-an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. Second, there must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of-the injury has to be fairly . . . trace[able] to the challenged action of the defendant, and not . . . the result [of] the independent action of some third party not before the ...


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