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J-Bob LLC v. Mike's Garage

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 30, 2017

J-Bob LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Mike's Garage / Larocca's Towing, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs filed this action against the Defendant towing company, after Defendant acquired title to a motorhome under Michigan's abandoned vehicle statute. The matter is currently before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. The Court finds that the issues have been adequately presented in the parties' briefs and that oral argument would not aid the decisional process. See Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan. The Court therefore orders that the motion will be decided upon the briefs. As explained below, the Court shall GRANT the motion because Plaintiffs do not state a claim for conversion, replevin, fraud, or abuse of process under Michigan law because the remedies under the statute at issue “are the exclusive remedies for the disposition of abandoned vehicles.” Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.252e(4).

         BACKGROUND

         On July 25, 2016, Plaintiffs J-Bob LLC (“J-Bob”) and Patricia Mehall (“Mehall”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against Defendant Mike's Garage/Larocca Towing, LLC (“Defendant”), asserting diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff's Complaint asserts four different state-law claims (conversion, replevin, fraud, and abuse of process), which are all based upon Defendant having acquired title to a motorhome under Michigan's abandoned vehicle statute. The matter is currently before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) (lack of subject matter jurisdiction).

         When ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all the well-pleaded factual allegations as true. Evans-Marshall v. Board of Educ., 428 F.3d 223, 228 (6th Cir. 2005). Although a heightened fact pleading of specifics is not required, the plaintiff must bring forth “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). For purposes of this motion, the Court may consider: 1) documents referenced in, or attached to, the complaint and central to the plaintiff's claims; 2) matters of which a court may properly take notice; and 3) public documents and records. Devlin v. Kalm, 531 F. App'x 697, 703 (6th Cir. 2013); Costell v. Bank of New York Mellon, 2013 WL 317746 (E.D. Mich. 2013); Meyer v. Citimortgage, Inc., 2012 WL 511995 (E.D. Mich. 2012).

         Here, Plaintiffs' Complaint and Defendant's Motion to Dismiss attach documents that are critical to a proper understanding of Plaintiffs' claims.

         Patricia Mehall is the sole owner of J-Bob. (Compl. at ¶ 2). On July 30, 2014, Mehall and her husband were operating a motorhome in Monroe, Michigan, when the motorhome was involved in a motor vehicle accident. (Compl. at ¶ 8; Ex. 2 to Def.'s Motion, State of Michigan Traffic Crash Report). At that time, J-Bob alone held title to the motorhome. (Compl. at ¶¶ 8-9; see also Ex. A to Compl., Certificate of Title, issued in J-Bob's name alone, on December 6, 2010).

         The accident caused significant damage to the motorhome, requiring that it be towed from the accident scene. (Compl. at ¶ 8; Ex. 2 to Def.'s Motion, State of Michigan Traffic Crash Report). It is undisputed that Defendant towed the motorhome and later took it to a storage yard owned by Defendant. (Id.; Compl. at ¶¶ 10-11).

         The Monroe County Sheriff Department later notified the Michigan Secretary of State, through LEIN, that the motorhome was abandoned. (See Exs. 3 & 4 to Def.'s Motion). The Secretary of State sent a “Notice Of Abandoned Vehicle” to J-Bob on September 7, 2015, stating that the motorhome had been taken into custody on July 30, 2014, and was being held in custody at Defendant's premises. (Ex. 4 to Def.'s Motion). That notice stated, in pertinent part:

Our records indicate that you are the titled owner of the vehicle listed below. This is to notify you and any secured party on record that this vehicle was taken into custody as an abandoned vehicle by the law enforcement agency listed below.
Unless this is an unregistered, abandoned, scrap vehicle, you have 20 days from the date of this notice to redeem it by paying the fees and accrued charges to the custodian of the vehicle. The vehicle may be sold at public auction after 20 days.
You may also contest that this vehicle was properly deemed abandoned, removed, or the reasonableness of the towing and daily storage fees by completing the enclosed petition to request a hearing with the court listed above. The petition must be filed with the court by mail or in person within 20 days of the date of this notice. Please refer to the back of this form and the enclosed petition for more information.
WARNING: If you do not redeem an abandoned vehicle or request a hearing within 20 days of the date of this notice, the law enforcement agency may transfer ownership of the vehicle and terminate all rights of the owner and any secured ...

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