United States District Court, D. New Jersey
GINA PRIANO-KEYSER, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
APPLE, INC., Defendant.
Priano-Keyser, on behalf of herself and a class of New Jersey
purchasers, brings this putative class action against Apple,
Inc. ("Apple") for damages, restitution, and
injunctive relief relating to alleged defects in Second
Generation and Third Generation models of the Apple Watch.
The class action complaint ("CAC") asserts three
causes of action, for violations of the New Jersey Consumer
Fraud Act, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 56:8-1, et seq.
("NJCFA"), breach of express warranty, and breach
of the implied warranty of merchantability.
before the Court is Apple's motion to dismiss certain
claims for lack of Article III standing, pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), and for failure to state a
claim, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
(DE 10). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is
granted in part and denied in part.
Court has subject matter jurisdiction based on diversity of
citizenship, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). For
purposes of a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded facts
stated in the CAC are assumed to be true. See
Section II.a, infra.
April 2015, Apple has manufactured and sold "smart
watches," which allow a wearer to download apps, send
and receive text messages, track the watch's location,
and receive phone calls, among other features. (CAC
¶¶ 2, 31.) The first smart watches were known as
"First Generation" watches. Since then, Apple has
released additional generations, which include "Series
1" and "Series 2" watches, which were released
in September 2016, and "Series 3" watches, which
were released in September 2017. (Id. ¶¶
2, 5 and 7.) The different Series have different
capabilities; for example, the Series 2 and 3 watches were
advertised as water resistant up to 50 meters, and Series 3
watches featured faster performance than Series 2 watches.
(Id. ¶¶ 29, 32-33.) In general, the
watches were advertised as "activity-oriented
devices"; in promotional images, watch-wearers are shown
participating in various physical activities, such as
running, hiking, climbing, dancing, swimming, and surfing.
(Id. ¶¶ 32-34.)
provides a limited warranty for its watches, running for one
year from the original purchase date (the "Limited
Warranty"). (Id. ¶ 36.) The terms of
Apple's Limited Warranty, generally the same for all
models, state as follows:
WHAT IS COVERED BY THIS WARRANTY?
Apple Inc. of One Apple Park Way, Cupertino, California,
U.S.A. 95014 ("Apple") warrants the Apple-branded
hardware product and Apple-branded accessories contained in
the original packaging ("Apple Product") against
defects in materials and workmanship when used normally in
accordance with Apple's published guidelines for a period
of ONE (1) YEAR from the date of original retail purchase by
the end user purchaser ("Warranty Period").
Apple's published guidelines include but are not limited
to information contained in technical specifications, user
manuals and service communications.
WHAT IS NOT COVERED BY THIS WARRANTY?
.... This Warranty does not apply: (a) to consumable parts,
such as batteries or protective coatings that are designed to
diminish over time, unless failure has occurred due to a
defect in materials or workmanship; (b) to cosmetic damage,
including but not limited to scratches, dents and broken
plastic on ports unless failure has occurred due to a defect
in materials or workmanship; . . . (d) to damage caused by
accident, abuse, misuse, fire, earthquake or other external
cause; . . . (h) to defects caused by normal wear and tear or
otherwise due to the normal aging of the Apple Product . . .
(Id. ¶ 37.)
website states that an Apple Watch is considered "out of
warranty" when it is (1) past the eligible warranty
term; (2) "has an issue that's not covered under
warranty or consumer law, such as accidental damage";
and (3) if such service is not covered by an AppleCare plan.
(Id. ¶ 38.)
about October 15, 2017, Plaintiff purchased a Series 3, 38 mm
gold, aluminum case Apple Watch. (Id. ¶ 49.) On
or around July 4, 2018, while the watch was in the charger,
the watch screen unexpectedly detached from the watch body.
(Id. ¶ 50.) At that time, Plaintiff saw that
there was a long, deep, jagged crack spanning the length of
the bottom section of the screen. (Id.) Plaintiffs
daughter pushed the screen back into place but the watch was
no longer functional. (Id.) Plaintiff brought the
watch to a Genius Barappointment on August 10, 2018, where she
was informed that the watch would need to be screened,
diagnosed, and repaired at an Apple depot. (Id.
¶ 51.) On August 13, 2018, Plaintiff was told that Apple
would not cover the cost of the repair of the watch under its
Limited Warranty, and that fixing the watch would cost
Plaintiff $229. (Id. ¶¶ 52-53.) Plaintiff
declined to pay out-of-pocket to repair her watch and has
been unable to use the watch since July 2018. (Id.
alleges that her experience is identical to those of
thousands of Apple Watch owners. (Id. ¶ 56.) In
the CAC, Plaintiff has reproduced quotes from other consumers
who have complained of this issue on Apple's
"Communities" forum. (See Id. ¶ 56.)
Those posts generally complain of the same issue: that the
screen shatters or detaches from the body of the watch, and
that Apple refuses to cover the cost of repair under its
Limited Warranty. (Id.)
alleges that all Apple smart watches contain a common defect
and flaw, consisting of swelling lithium-ion (or
"li-on") batteries, which causes Apple Watch
screens to "crack, shatter, or detach from the body of
the Watch (the 'Defect')." (Id. ¶
3, 45.) Specifically, the swollen battery puts upward
pressure on the weakest point of the watch-the screen-which
cracks along the perimeter, shatters, or fully detaches from
the body of the watch. (Id. ¶ 46.) Plaintiff
alleges that the Defect manifests itself suddenly, and is not
the result of any damage or misuse on the part of the wearer.
The CAC also alleges, however, that the Defect could be
caused by aging or defective internal components of the
watches. (Id. ¶ 3.) The Defect can pose a risk
to consumers, and several putative class members have
suffered scratches and burns due to the Defect. (Id.
alleges that Apple knew about the Defect based on consumer
complaints published on the "Communities" forum on
Apple's own website. (Id. ¶ 5.) In April
2017, Apple acknowledged the swelling battery defect in First
Generation Watches and, for those watches, extended its
Limited Warranty from one year to three years. (Id.
¶ 6.) Apple also acknowledged the swelling battery
defect in certain Series 2 watches, and, for qualifying
watches, extended its Limited Warranty from one year to three
years. (Id.) The CAC is less specific about the
Series 3 watches, however. Plaintiff alleges generally that
purchasers of Series 3 watches encountered the same Defect as
the purchasers of the Series 1 and 2 watches and have
likewise complained on Apple's community forum. The CAC
is silent, however, as to whether Apple has acknowledged the
swollen battery issue or extended the warranty for Series 3
watches. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 45.) Furthermore,
although Apple has acknowledged the "swollen
battery" issue in certain First- and Second-Generation
Watches, it has refused to acknowledge that the swollen
batteries are the cause of the Defect. (Id. ¶
alleges that Apple knew or should have known about the
Defect, but actively concealed or failed to disclose it to
Plaintiff (and putative class members). (Id. ¶
8.) Plaintiff also alleges that Apple's internal policy
is to deny the existence of the Defect or to claim that the
Defect is the result of "accidental damages" caused
by consumer. Apple has thus refused to have its Limited
Warranty cover the cost of fixing the shattered or dislocated
watch screens. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 10.) Plaintiff
alleges that if she and other class members had known about
the Defect at the time of purchase, they would not have
bought the watches, or would have paid less for them.
(Id. ¶ 12.)
Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
burden of establishing federal jurisdiction rests with the
party asserting its existence." Lincoln Ben. Life
Co. v. AEI Life, LLC, 800 F.3d 99, 105 (3d Cir. 2015)
(footnotes omitted) (citing DaimlerChrysler Corp. v.
Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 342 n. 3, 126 S.Ct. 1854, 164
L.Ed.2d 589 (2006)). "Challenges to subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may be facial or
factual." Id. (citing Common Cause of Pa.
v. Pennsylvania, 558 F.3d 249, 257 (3d Cir. 2009)
(quoting Taliaferro v. Darby Twp. Zoning Bd., 458
F.3d 181, 188 (3d Cir. 2006)). A facial attack "concerns
'an alleged pleading deficiency' whereas a factual
attack concerns 'the actual failure of [a plaintiffs]
claims to comport [factually] with the jurisdictional
prerequisites.'' Id. (alterations in
original) (citing CNA v. United States, 535 F.3d
132, 139 (3d Cir. 2008)) (quoting United States ex rel.
Atkinson v. Pa. Shipbuilding Co., 473 F.3d 506, 514 (3d
a facial jurisdictional attack. The applicable standard is
similar to the one that applies to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
See Section II.b, infra. The court
considers only the allegations of the complaint and documents
referred to therein in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Gould Elecs., Inc. v. United States, 220
F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Mortensen v. First
Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d
Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) does not require that a
complaint contain detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless,
"a plaintiffs 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 plaintiffs 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).
facial-plausibility standard is met "when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (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." Id.
12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint if it
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The
defendant, as the moving party, bears the burden of showing
that no claim has been stated. Animal Science Products,
Inc. v. China Minmetals Corp., 654 F.3d 462, 469 n.9 (3d
Cir. 2011). For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the
facts alleged in the complaint are accepted as true and all
reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff.
New Jersey Carpenters & the Trustees Thereof v.
Tishman Const. Corp. of New Jersey, 760 F.3d 297, 302
(3d Cir. 2014).
deciding a motion to dismiss, a court typically does not
consider matters outside the pleadings. However, a court may
consider documents that are "integral to or explicitly
relied upon in the complaint" or any "undisputedly
authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to
a motion to dismiss if the plaintiffs claims are based on the
document." In re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc. Sec.
Litig., 184 F.3d 280, 287 (3d Cir. 1999) (emphasis and
citations omitted); see In re Asbestos Prods. Liab.
Litig. (No. VI), 822 F.3d 125, 133 n.7 (3d Cir. 2016);
Schmidt v. Skolas, 770 F.3d 241, 249 (3d Cir. 2014).
Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of ...