MONICA MCQUEEN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
BMW OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC, and BAYERISCHE MOTORENWEKE AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT, Defendants.
STANLEY R. CHESLER, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court by way of defendant BMW of North America, LLC ("BMW NA")'s motion to dismiss the First Amended Class Action Complaint ("the Complaint"). This Court has jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2) and (6), as this is a class action in which the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and in which at least one member of the putative class is a citizen of a State other than that of defendant BMW NA, and because defendant BMW AG is a subject of a foreign state. This Court also has supplemental jurisdiction over the related state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. For the reasons expressed below, defendant BMW NA's motion to dismiss will be granted. Because the motion to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim is granted, BMW NA's motion to dismiss the class allegations is denied for mootness.
Monica McQueen ("Plaintiff") purchased a 2004 BMW 745i from DeLuxe Auto Sales in Newark, New Jersey at some time in 2008. The 745i is part of the line of "7-Series" BMWs, purported to be BMW's "flagship line." Plaintiff alleges that the entire 7-Series line of vehicles, with model numbers 2002-2008 ("the Vehicles"), is defective. The alleged defect arises from the Vehicles' unique integration of the Bosch Shift-by-Wire electronically controlled transmission system with a common transmission manufactured by ZF. The Vehicles are also divided into two categories: those which are also equipped with the Comfort Access System ("CAS") feature- which enables the driver to start the Vehicle by pressing the "Start/Stop" button without inserting the key into the ignition-and those without the CAS feature.
The defect allegedly manifests by causing the Vehicle to shift into neutral rather than park, contrary to the operator's intentions. This can result in the Vehicles rolling away, potentially causing damage to the Vehicle itself, other property, or individuals. After receiving complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") opened an investigation into the BMW 7-Series vehicles. The NHTSA found that a defect existed in those Vehicles that were equipped with the CAS feature, but was unable to identify a similar defect in the non-CAS equipped Vehicles.
Plaintiff's automobile is one of the Vehicles not equipped with the CAS feature. Plaintiff alleges that her vehicle has rolled away as a result of the defect at least five times; the most recent incident allegedly resulted in her vehicle colliding with her garage door, damaging both the vehicle and the garage. According to Plaintiff, the defect was not disclosed by Defendants at any time prior to their issuing a recall on the CAS-equipped Vehicles, despite the fact that Defendants supposedly knew that all the 7-Series Vehicles were affected.
Plaintiff brought the instant suit on her own behalf and as a putative class action, alleging violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("the NJCFA"), N.J.S.A. 56:8-2, and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act ("the MMWA"), 15 U.S.C. § 2301, et seq., breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. Defendant BMW NA has yet to answer the Complaint, instead moving to: 1) dismiss the Complaint for lack of standing; 2) "refer"-that is, dismiss-the suit to the NHTSA, or alternatively adopt its supposed findings of fact; 3) dismiss the allegations for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted; and 4) in the alternative, dismiss the class action allegations.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Pursuant to Federal Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), this Court must dismiss a complaint if it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear a claim, and if the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
As standing is a jurisdictional matter, "a motion to dismiss for want of standing is also properly brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)." Ballentine v. United States, 486 F.3d 806, 810 (3d Cir. 2007). "The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing the elements of standing, and each element must be supported in the same way as any other matter on which the plaintiff bears the burden of proof, i.e., with the manner and degree of evidence required at the successive stages of the litigation.'" FOCUS v. Allegheny Cnty. Court of Common Pleas, 75 F.3d 834, 838 (3d Cir. 1996) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992)). In order to establish Article III standing, a plaintiff must allege an injury that is "concrete, particularized and actual or imminent; fairly traceable to the challenged action; and redressable by a favorable ruling." Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, 133 S.Ct. 1138, 1146 (2013).
Rule 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir.1997). The Court's inquiry, however, "is not whether plaintiffs will ultimately prevail in a trial on the merits, but whether they should be afforded an opportunity to offer evidence in support of their claims." In re Rockefeller Ctr. Prop., Inc., 311 F.3d 198, 215 (3d Cir.2002).
However, the Supreme Court has held that "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). Thus, the assertions in the complaint must be enough to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. That is to say, the facts alleged must allow "the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the conduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir.2008) (In order to survive a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations in a complaint must "raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element, " thereby justifying the advancement of "the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation.").
When assessing a complaint's sufficiency, the Court must distinguish factual contentions-which allege behavior on the part of the defendant that, if true, would satisfy one or more elements of the claim asserted-from "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. Furthermore, despite the presumption of veracity given to factual allegations on a motion to dismiss, a Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Id. at 1950. Thus, "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Id.
A. Article III Standing
Defendant BMW NA argues that Plaintiff lacks Article III standing because she has not alleged any loss or injury. Relying on Lujan, BMW NA argues that because Plaintiff has not yet incurred any out-of-pocket losses from any repairs to her damaged property, any injury she may have suffered remains ...