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Weske v. Samsung Elecs, America, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 19, 2013

JEFF WESKE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS, AMERICA, INC. & SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS, CO., LTD., Defendants

Page 699

For JEFF WESKE, JO ANNA FRAGER, DARRYL MYHRE, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs: JAMES E. CECCHI, LEAD ATTORNEY, CARELLA BYRNE CECCHI OLSTEIN BRODY & AGNELLO, P.C., ROSELAND, NJ; LAUREN S. BRANTZ, LEAD ATTORNEY, COHEN PLACITELLAED ROTH PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA; JASON LOUIS LICHTMAN, LIEFF CABRASER HEIMANN & BERNSTEIN LLP, NEW YORK, NY; LINDSEY H. TAYLOR, CARELLA, BYRNE, CECCHI, OLSTEIN, BRODY & AGNELLO, ROSELAND, NJ; MICHAEL COREN, Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., Philadelphia, PA.

For Ralph Chermak, Maureen Kean, Beverly Burns, Jeff Polsean, Plaintiffs: JAMES E. CECCHI, CARELLA BYRNE CECCHI OLSTEIN BRODY & AGNELLO, P.C., ROSELAND, NJ.

Fro SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC., SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD., Defendants: GEORGE C. JONES, JOHN MALONEY, LEAD ATTORNEYS, GRAHAM CURTIN, PA, MORRISTOWN, NJ; JOSEPH CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN, GRAHAM CURTIN, MORRISTOWN, NJ.

OPINION

Page 700

WILLIAM J. MARTINI, United States District Judge.

The Plaintiffs in this putative class action allege that a circuit board defect (the " Defect" ) caused their Samsung refrigerators to stop cooling. Plaintiffs assert claims for the violation of various consumer protection laws, fraudulent concealment, and breach of implied warranty. Defendants Samsung Electronics, America, Inc. (" SEA" ) and Samsung Electronics, Co., Ltd. (" SEC" ) (together " Samsung" ) move under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 9(b) and 12(b)(6) to dismiss all claims. Samsung also moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) to strike, among other things, Plaintiffs' class allegations. There was no oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the foregoing reasons, Samsung's motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, and its motion to strike is DENIED.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiffs Jeff Weske, Jo Anna Frager, and Darryl Myhre, filed an original class action Complaint against Samsung on September 20, 2010. In that pleading, Plaintiffs alleged that they purchased defective Samsung refrigerators (the " Refrigerators" ) that stopped cooling after a certain period. For present purposes, the Refrigerators' warranty lasted for one year. Plaintiffs alleged that Samsung knew--or was reckless in not knowing--that the Refrigerators were defective. In support of this allegation, Plaintiffs pointed to customer complaints Samsung received in early 2006 from unspecified consumers, to postings on a consumer affairs website in 2009 and 2010, and to a BBC report from 2008 diagnosing cooling problems in a Samsung refrigerator sold in the United Kingdom.

The original Complaint alleged four causes of action: (1) violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act; (2) fraudulent concealment or non-disclosure; (3) breach of implied warranty; and (4) unjust enrichment. The Court dismissed all four claims. Subsequently, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint and then, before

Page 701

there was additional motion practice, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint (the " SAC" ). Unlike the original Complaint, the SAC identifies the Defect as a faulty circuit board. SAC ¶ 6, ECF No. 61.

The SAC adds claims from three new Plaintiffs: Ralph Chermak and Jeff Poslean (both from Illinois), and Maureen Kean (from California). [2] As illustrated in the following chart, the Plaintiffs named in the SAC purchased their refrigerators in different states, and they began to experience cooling problems at different times:

Plaintiffs' Refrigerator Purchases

Plaintiff

State of Purchase

Time of Purchase

Time Defect Manifested

Time Samsung Notified

Jeff Weske

Minnesota

December 2006

Spring 2009

Fall 2009

Jo Anna Frager

Ohio

February 2008

June 2010

Never

Darryl Myhre

Washington

November 2007

Before November 2008

Before November 2008

Ralph Chermak

Illinois

September 2009

March 2011

March 2011

Jeff Poslean

Illinois

2008

October 2011

October 2011

Maureen Kean

California

August/September 2009

November 2010

December 2011

The SAC alleges that Samsung " obtained (or should have obtained) . . . notice [of the Defect] no later than spring or summer 2006." Id. ¶ 99. In support of this allegation, the SAC confirms that two people, neither of whom are Plaintiffs, notified Samsung about cooling problems in 2006:

o Mary Johnston. Johnston bought her Samsung refrigerator in 2005. After Johnston's refrigerator began to experience cooling problems in August 2006, Johnston called Samsung's customer service department and spoke with " Amber." A repairman was unable to fix the problem, and Johnston called customer service a second time. A second repairman diagnosed a faulty control board and said he would inform Samsung of the problem.
o Eugene Ruta. The SAC does not say when Ruta purchased his refrigerator. Ruta called Samsung's customer service hotline in 2006 complaining of cooling problems. A repairman diagnosed frozen outer heat-exchanging pipes and said he would report the problem to Samsung.

The SAC also cites two apparently unconfirmed internet postings from non-parties who claim to have notified Samsung about cooling problems in 2006.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, if the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The moving party bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). 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

Page 702

favorable to the plaintiff. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975); Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts ...


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