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Jeff Weske, Jo Anna Frager, and Darryl Myhre v. Samsung Electronics America

March 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William J. Martini, U.S.D.J.:


This matter comes before the Court on a motion by Defendants Samsung Electronics America, Inc. ("SEA") and Samsung Electronics Co., LTD. ("SEC") (collectively, "Samsung") to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the motion IN PART and DENIES it IN PART.

I.Factual and Procedural Background

Since 2005, Samsung has engaged in the business of designing, manufacturing, and selling refrigerators in the United States. Plaintiffs Jeff Weske, Jo Anna Frager, and Darryl Myhre, residents of Minnesota, Ohio, and Washington, respectively, filed a purported class-action complaint against Samsung on September 20, 2010. Defendant SEA is based in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. Defendant SEC is based in Seoul, South Korea. Plaintiffs allege that certain consumer refrigerators manufactured by Samsung (the "Refrigerators") have a defect that causes the Refrigerators coils to freeze over, resulting in the Refrigerators failing to keep food cold (the "Defect"). Plaintiffs further allege that an exterior temperature display on the outside of the Refrigerators does not properly display the resulting rise in temperature caused by the Defect. The Refrigerators come with a one-year warranty on parts and labor and a five-year warranty limited to certain portions of the cooling-system apparently not involved with the Defect.

Each Plaintiff purchased a new Samsung refrigerator from a department store in his or her home state. None of Plaintiffs purchased a Refrigerator in New Jersey. Each of the Plaintiffs alleges that the Defect caused their Refrigerator to fail more than a year after the purchase, ostensibly outside the period of the express warranty coverage. Plaintiffs allege that they were damaged by the loss of the value of their Refrigerator, costs incidental to attempting to repair the Refrigerator, and the loss of groceries that were in the Refrigerator when it failed.

The Complaint alleges that Samsung knew -- or was reckless in not knowing -- that the Refrigerators contained the Defect and that the Defect would cause the Refrigerators to cease to be useful earlier than their customers expected. Plaintiffs allege that Samsung received customer complaints about the problem in early 2006, and the BBC reported on a similar defect in a Samsung refrigerator sold in the United Kingdom in 2008. And yet, Samsung continued to sell the Refrigerators without disclosing the Defect in any of its marketing materials or on its website.

The Complaint alleges four claims: (1) violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. § 56:8-2 et seq. (the "NJCFA"); (2) fraudulent concealment or non-disclosure; (3) breach of implied warranty; and (4) unjust enrichment. Samsung argues that the Complaint fails to adequately state a claim as to any of the four counts and asks the Court to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety with prejudice.

II.Legal Analysis

A. The Motion to Dismiss Standard

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must take all allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975); Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998). This assumption of truth is inapplicable, however, to legal conclusions couched as factual allegations or to "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement 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). Thus, the factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a plaintiff's right to relief above a speculative level, such that it is "plausible on its face." See id. at 570; see also Umland v. PLANCO Fin. Serv., Inc., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008). A claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). While "[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement' . . . it asks for more than a sheer possibility." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (2009).

B. Choice-of-Law Analysis

The Court must first determine which state's law applies to Plaintiffs' claims using New Jersey's choice of law rules. See, e.g., Arlandson v. Hartz Mountain Corp., 792 F. Supp. 2d 691, 699 (D.N.J. 2011) (citing Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Elec. Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487, 496 (1941)). New Jersey has adopted the "most significant relationship" test of the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws. P.V. v. Camp Jaycee, 962 A.2d 453, 460 (N.J. 2008). This analysis, which must be performed on an issue-by-issue basis, is a two-step process. Id. at 460-61. First, the Court must determine whether an actual conflict of law exists -- if no conflict exists, the law of New Jersey, the forum state, applies. Id. Second, if a conflict does exist, the Court must determine which state has the "most significant relationship" to the claim, by ...

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