United States District Court, D. New Jersey
IMRAN CHAUDHRI, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated, Plaintiff,
LUMILEDS LLC, Defendant.
the Court is the motion of defendant Lumileds, LLC
(“Lumileds”) to dismiss plaintiff Imran
Chaudhri's complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), 12(b)(6), and 12(f). In this
putative class action, Chaudhri has brought various claims
sounding in fraud pertaining to certain advertising of an
automotive headlamp bulb that is manufactured by Lumileds. The
plaintiff, when he read the packaging for defendant's
X-TremeVision headlamp bulb, hoped it would satisfy his
Goethesque quest for “more light.” The question
here is whether the bulb's packaging represented that the
X-tremeVision headlamp bulb would project its beams (a) more
brightly in all directions, as measured by a laboratory
luminous flux test; or (b) farther, e.g., as measured from
the front of a car when the bulb is installed in the
headlight lens/reflector assembly.
of 2015, Chaudhri purchased a twin package of “Philips
X-tremeVision” headlight bulbs. He claims that he
purchased the X-treme bulbs based on a representation on the
packaging that it would produce 100% more light. The bulbs
come in a blister pack, i.e., a clear plastic package
embedded in a card. At the top right corner of the card,
above the bulbs, is the statement “흍% more
light.” Lower on the card, below the bulbs, is a
second, composite representation. That second representation
contains an aerial depiction of a car with headlight beams
projecting from the front (shining to the right of the card).
Bisecting the light beam vertically is a line, demarcated
“standard.” The light beam from the vehicle, as
pictured, extends well beyond the “standard”
line. At the far end of the beam appears the designation
“흍%.” (See photo of package at p.5,
wondered whether it was true that the Philips X-treme
headlamp bulb emitted “흍% more light” than the
less expensive standard Philips headlamp bulb. Chaudhri's
counsel had Calcoast-ITL, a photometric testing laboratory,
conduct a luminous flux test to compare the output of the
two. Calcoast's luminous flux test measured the total
light emitted in all directions from the bulb, designated in
Lumens. Calcoast's testing determined that the
Phillips X-tremeVision headlamp bulbs produced only 2.3%, not
100%, more Lumens than the standard bulb.
says that Chaudhri distorts the meaning of the package
advertising by focusing solely on the phrase “흍%
more light” at the top of the card. That phrase, says
Lumileds, must be understood in the context of the visual
depiction of the car and its headlight beams, farther down on
the card. That composite representation, according to
Lumileds, does not signify that the X-tremeVision headlamp
bulb would emit 100% more light spherically, in all
directions, which is what Calcoast's luminous flux test
measured. Rather, it signifies that when the X-tremeVision
headlamp is installed in the car's lens/reflector
headlamp assembly, the distance its beam is projected is
“흍%” than that of a standard bulb. As to that
issue, no testing has been done by the plaintiff.
opposes Lumileds's motion to dismiss, and cross-moves for
summary judgment. Chaudhri asserts that the luminous flux
test results and the X-tremeVision packaging permit a
conclusion as a matter of law that Lumileds was representing
to the consumer that the bulb produces “100% more
light, ” and that this representation was false. To
bolster his argument, Chaudhri points to certain information
in Lumileds's patent for the X-tremeVision headlamp.
Court has considered the parties' submissions and decides
the motions without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 78. Without fact finding, however, I must
find that the packaging of the product, viewed as a whole, is
ambiguous as to whether the X-tremeVision headlamp is claimed
to be generally 100% brighter, or only that, when installed,
it projects its beams farther down the road. The arguments
have a circular quality, as each party continues to simply
point to a different part of the card and claim victory.
Lumileds focuses on the representation in the middle of the
package card, accompanied by an image of a car that seemingly
suggests that “흍%” refers to distance;
Chaudhri focuses on the unadorned representation “흍%
more light” at the top of the card. This issue that
cannot be resolved on a motion to dismiss (or, as Chaudhri
would have it, on a premature, pre-discovery motion for
summary judgment). For the reasons stated below, then, both
motions are denied.
is a resident of New Jersey who seeks, pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 23, to represent a nationwide class of persons
who purchased Philips X-tremeVision headlamps. (Compl.
¶¶1, 29-38). On February 15, 2018, Chaudhri filed a
federal-court complaint against Lumileds, asserting five
counts: (1) New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
(“NJCFA”); (2) common law fraud; (3) negligent
misrepresentation; (4) express warranty; and (5) the
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
7, 2018, Lumileds moved to dismiss the entire complaint for
failure to state a claim, lack of standing, and lack of
jurisdiction. (DE 15). On June 25, 2018, Chaudhri opposed the
motion to dismiss and filed a cross-motion for summary
judgment. (DE 24).
Allegations in Complaint
Lumileds manufactures automotive
lighting products, including bulbs for headlamps. (Compl.
¶8). In May of 2015, Chaudhri purchased a twin package
of “Philips X-tremeVision 9003 headlamps, ” a
Lumileds product. (Id. at ¶¶8-9). Chaudhri
paid $59.99 for two Philips X-tremeVision headlamps; in
comparison, a Philips standard 9003 headlamp, sold singly,
costs $10.99. (Compl. ¶12). Chaudhri bought the
headlamps at a Pep Boys located in Piscataway, New Jersey.
purchased this particular headlamp because the product's
packaging “represented that Philips X-tremeVision
headlamps produce 100% more light”:
¶11, Figure A).
November of 2015, one of Chaudhri's X-tremeVision
headlamps “burned out, ” and he purchased a
replacement headlamp from a different company, Sylvania.
(Compl. ¶¶15-16). Chaudhri did not notice any
difference in light output between the Sylvania headlamp and
the Philips X-tremeVision headlamp. (Compl. ¶17). This
apparently aroused Chaudhri's suspicions as to whether
the X-tremeVision bulbs represented an improvement over less
counsel contacted Calcoast-ITL, a photometric
testing laboratory, to determine whether the Philips
X-tremeVision headlamps truly produce “100% more
light” than standard Philips headlamps. (Compl.
¶18 & Ex. A, Calcoast Rpt). Calcoast tested four
Philips X-tremeVision 9003 headlamps and four Philips
standard 9003 headlamps. (Compl. ¶21). Calcoast
conducted a “luminous flux measurement, ” which
tests the total light emitted from a bulb. (Compl. ¶20
& Calcoast Rpt at 1). More specifically, this test
measures “the total light emitted in all directions
from the bulb in units of Lumens (Lm).” (Calcoast Rpt
luminous flux test, which was employed by Calcoast, is
different from a luminous intensity test, which was not
employed. The luminous flux test (at least as employed by
Calcoast here) measures light that is emitted from a bulb in
all directions. It is thus described by Lumileds as a
“spherical test.” A luminous intensity test, by
contrast, would be a more appropriate measure of the light
projected in front of a vehicle by a headlight bulb. Luminous
intensity (again, in this context) would depend not just on
the brightness of the bulb itself, but also on the
interaction of a bulb with the lenses and reflectors of the
car's headlight assembly. (Calcoast Rpt at 2). Thus
Calcoast's report explains that the results of a luminous
flux test may be different from those of a luminous intensity
test: “[w]hen installed in a headlamp, the total
emitted light from the bulb is redirected using reflectors
and/or lens optics to various points in front of the vehicle.
This redirected light is measured within a solid angle and is
expressed as luminous intensity in units of Lumens per
steradian or Candela (Cd).” (Calcoast Rpt at 2).
luminous flux test determined that the Philip's
X-tremeVision headlamps produce, on average, 2.3% more Lumens
than the Philips standard headlamps in low beam
configuration. (Compl. ¶22). Specifically, the Philips
standard 9003 headlamps produced an average light output of
894 Lm, whereas the Philips X-tremeVision 9003 headlamps
produced an average total light output of 915 Lm. (Compl.
¶21). This, says Chaudhri, is “far less”
than “100% more light, ” and so the
representation on the Philips X-tremeVision packaging is
false. (Compl. ¶22).
fact, Chaudhri claims, a 100% boost could not occur. If the
X-tremeVision headlamp bulbs were to actually produce 100%
more light on the luminous flux test (i.e., an output of 1820
Lm or more), they would violate federal regulations. (Compl.
¶¶23-28; see 49 C.F.R. §§ 564, 571.108
(requiring that replaceable headlamps conform to federal
regulations that specify maximum power (measured in watts),
luminous flux, and luminous intensity)). The federal
regulations narrowly constrain the range for total light
emitted from a light source (luminous flux) to 910 Lm, plus
or minus (“”) ten percent. (Compl. Ex. B at 2,
DE 1 at 26). Thus the luminous flux range for low-beams is
limited by regulation to a range of 819 Lm to 1001 Lm.
(Compl. ¶27). Chaudhri claims that if Philips
X-treamVision headlamps actually produced “100% more
light, ” measured in lumens, then their output would be
1820 Lms, well outside the range permitted by the federal
regulations. (Compl. ¶28). Therefore, says Chaudhri,
Lumileds must have known its representation on the packaging
was false, because it could not sell headlamps that exceeded
1001 Lumens. (Compl. ¶41).
Additional Facts Asserted on Summary
addition to confirming the factual allegations of the
complaint, Chaudhri's summary judgment motion
stresses that the “100% more light claim” on the
package is not qualified or explained. (PSMF ¶2). He
also points to U.S. Patent 8, 471, 447, which covers the
technology used by the Philips X-tremeVision headlamps. (PSMF
¶16). The patent, he says, does not indicate that the
technology produces “more” light, but only that
it redirects light. (PSMF ¶¶16-24).
facts are to a great extent disputed by Lumileds. Most
fundamentally, however, because the parties are talking past
each other regarding the packaging, each says that the
other's facts are not material.
moves to dismiss Chaudhri's complaint on several grounds.
First, Lumileds moves to dismiss the fraud claims for failure
to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) and for failure to plead fraud with specificity
under Rule 9(b). (DBr at 14-23). Lumileds further claims that
Chaudhri has insufficiently pled reliance, a causal link
between the misrepresentation and a purported loss, and
damages. (DBr at 24-27). As to the claims of negligent
misrepresentation and common law fraud, Lumileds asserts that
the complaint fails to plead Lumileds's knowledge of
also moves to dismiss Chaudhri's complaint under Rule
12(b)(1), claiming that Chaudhri lacks standing to sue.
Chaudhri, says Lumileds, is a serial litigant whose claimed
injuries are self-inflicted, solely for the purpose of
Lumileds moves to dismiss or strike any class claims that may
be asserted on behalf of any non-New Jersey purchasers. This
action has not been certified as a class action, however.
has opposed Lumileds's motion to dismiss. Upping the
ante, he has cross-moved for summary judgment. He asserts
that the documentary evidence attached to the complaint and
in support of Lumileds's motion establishes as a matter
of law that the statement “흍% more light” is
Lumileds's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) does not require that a
complaint contain detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless,
“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); See 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.” (citation omitted)). Thus, the
complaint's factual allegations must be sufficient to
raise a plaintiff's right to relief above a speculative
level, so that a claim is “plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see also
West Run Student Hous. Assocs., LLC v. Huntington Nat.
Bank,712 F.3d 165, 169 (3d Cir. 2013). That
facial-plausibility standard is met “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the ...