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Beck v. FCA U.S., LLC

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

July 10, 2018

DONALD J. BECK, Plaintiff,
FCA U.S. LLC, Defendant.



         This motion is before the Court on Plaintiff Donald Beck's motion to alter or amend the Court's August 11, 2017 opinion, order, and judgment which granted Defendant FCA US, LLC's (“FCA”) motion to dismiss and disposed of the case accordingly. See Beck v. FCA, 273 F.Supp.3d 735 (E.D. Mich. 2017). The issues have been fully briefed. Because oral argument will not aid the decisional process, the motion will be decided based on the parties' briefing. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2); Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Beck, a California citizen, brought this putative class action, alleging that several of FCA's vehicles have a defective gearshift system that inaccurately indicates that the vehicles are in Park when they, in fact, are not. See Beck, 273 F.Supp.3d at 741. Beck alleged that the defect resulted in a number of rollaway incidents. Id.

         FCA brought a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Court granted the motion on the following grounds: (i) Beck lacked standing to bring the suit because Beck could not claim he suffered economic harm as a result of the defect, see id. at 747; (ii) Beck failed to provide pre-suit notice, as required by California's Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”), see id. at 748; (iii) Beck failed to state a claim for any affirmative misrepresentation under California's Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), see id. at 750; (iv) Beck failed to sufficiently allege facts that FCA had a duty to disclose the defect, thus requiring dismissal under the UCL, see id. at 756; (v) Beck did not present his vehicle for repair, necessitating the dismissal of his express warranty claims, see id. at 758; and (vi) Beck did not stop driving his vehicle, requiring that his implied warranty claims be dismissed, see id. at 762.

         Following entry of the judgment, Beck filed the instant motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) (Dkt. 40). FCA filed a response to the motion (Dkt. 43).


         Rule 59(e) allows a party to file a motion to amend or alter a judgment, so long as the motion is filed within 28 days after the entry of the judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). “A court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend if there is: (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice.” Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Beck offers two principal arguments. First, he argues that the Court should not have dismissed his complaint with prejudice and should now instead permit him to file an amended complaint, which would cure the deficiencies in the dismissed complaint. Second, Beck argues the Court committed clear error when it dismissed his implied warranty claims. The Court finds that both arguments lack merit.

         In arguing that he should be permitted leave to file an amended complaint, Beck observes that Rule 15(a) allows for liberal amendment of complaints. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). He further argues that his failure to amend the complaint prior to opposing FCA's motion should not preclude an amendment now.

         Beck is correct that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that leave to amend should be freely given when justice so requires. See id. However, he ignores that the Sixth Circuit has instructed that parties may not “rely on the district court's opinion to identify deficiencies in his complaint.” Pond v. Haas, 674 Fed.Appx. 466, 473 (6th Cir. 2016); accord Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 616 F.3d 612, 616 (6th Cir. 2010) (explaining that a permissive post-judgment amendment policy is not advisable because plaintiffs could “use the court as a sounding board to discover holes in their arguments, then reopen the case by amending their complaint to take account of the court's decision”) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, a plaintiff must shoulder a heavier burden when seeking leave to amend post-judgment, and provide a compelling reason for failure to seek leave to amend earlier. See Pond, 674 Fed.Appx. at 473.

         There is no such compelling reason here. Beck argues that he “had a genuine, good-faith belief that an amended complaint was unnecessary” when the Court entered its order and that he “believed that his allegations were sufficient to withstand FCA's Motion to Dismiss.” Pl. Mot. at 6, PageID.2432 (Dkt. 40). But were the Court to grant leave to amend on this basis, it would be allowing Beck to use the Court as a sounding board. That is to say, Beck would be using the Court to discover the deficiencies in his complaint and then immediately file an amended complaint to fix those deficiencies. The Sixth Circuit has explicitly disapproved of this method. See Leisure Caviar, 616 F.3d at 616. Accordingly, the Court denies this portion of Beck's motion.[1]

         Beck also argues that the Court erred in relying on his continued use of the car in dismissing his implied warranty claims. In order to succeed on his motion, Beck must show that the Court made a clear error in law. However, Beck has not even cited controlling precedent, let alone controlling precedent that contradicts the Court's opinion dismissing the claims. See Oto v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (explaining that a party must “demonstrate that there was a disregard, misapplication or failure to recognize controlling precedent” to demonstrate error sufficient to grant a Rule 59 ...

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