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Weidman v. Ford Motor Co.

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

July 10, 2019

PAUL WEIDMAN, RAUL VALENTIN, ERICA GOMEZ, PERRY BURTON, TERESA PERRY, and ROY NAASZ, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS CONSOLIDATED CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT [#35]

          HONORABLE GERSHWIN A. DRAIN, JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the Court is the Defendant, Ford Motor Company's, Motion to Dismiss Consolidated Class Action Complaint, filed on December 18, 2018. Plaintiffs filed their Response in Opposition on January 23, 2019. Defendant filed a Reply in support of its Motion to Dismiss on February 6, 2019. Upon review of the parties' submissions, the Court concludes that oral argument will not aid in the disposition of this matter. Accordingly, the Court will resolve the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on the briefs. See E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Consolidated Class Action Complaint.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs are six individuals from five different states who, at varying times between 2015 through 2017, purchased a Ford F-150 truck. Plaintiffs allege that each of these vehicles contains a defective front brake master cylinder that places it at risk of suddenly and unexpectedly losing braking ability. Plaintiffs assert that the master cylinders in all the F-150 trucks, model years 2013 through 2018, have a “defective sealing mechanism that is inadequate to prevent brake fluid . . . from leaking, ” causing reduced or lost braking ability. Compl. at §§ 4-5. Plaintiffs Paul Weidman, Roy Naasz, and Teresa Perry allege that they experienced some loss of braking force while driving. Specifically, Plaintiff Weidman maintains that his brakes failed within five months of purchasing his truck. Plaintiff Perry's brakes failed with less than 20, 000 miles on her truck and Plaintiff Naasz's brakes failed while he was trying to slow down for a freeway off-ramp. In each case, Ford technicians diagnosed the problem as a failed master cylinder.

         Plaintiffs further allege that Ford's pre-sale knowledge of the master cylinder defect is evident from internal documents that it provided to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For example, on June 16, 2015, a Ford engineer sent an email stating “Master Cylinder leaks are getting a lot of attention at Ford.” Compl. § 76. Plaintiffs further assert that there are an exceptionally high number of consumer complaints regarding the master cylinder defect, beginning with the model year 2013.

         Ford admitted the existence of the master cylinder defect in a safety recall. However, Plaintiffs complain that the recall was inadequate because it only covered F-150s from model years 2013 through 2014. The recall was also inadequate because it simply provided for the replacement of the defective master cylinder with another defective master cylinder.

         Plaintiffs seek to certify a nationwide class of all “current or former owners and/or lessees” of model year 2013 through 2018 Ford F-150 trucks under federal law, as well as seek to certify, on multiple claims, separate Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas state classes for vehicles purchased or leased in those states.

         III. LAW & ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows the court to make an assessment as to whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). Even though the complaint need not contain “detailed” factual allegations, its “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all of the allegations in the complaint are true.” Ass'n of Cleveland Fire Fighters v. City of Cleveland, 502 F.3d 545, 548 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555).

         The court must construe the complaint in favor of the plaintiff, accept the allegations of the complaint as true, and determine whether plaintiff's factual allegations present plausible claims. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, plaintiff's pleading for relief must provide “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. (citations and quotations omitted). “[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. “[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. The plausibility standard requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'- ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 1950.

         The district court generally reviews only the allegations set forth in the complaint in determining whether to grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, however “matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint, also may be taken into account. Amini v. Oberlin College, 259 F.3d 493, 502 (6th Cir. 2001). Documents attached to a defendant's “motion to dismiss are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to her claim.” Id.

         B. Breach of Express Warranty

          Defendant argues that Plaintiffs' allegations show that Ford fully complied with the terms of its Limited Warranty. The Complaint alleges Ford breached its express warranty to repair defective parts because when the Plaintiffs presented their vehicles for repair of the master cylinder, Ford installed the same defective master cylinder. Compl. §§ 202, 318. Defendant argues that Plaintiffs failure to allege that any problems have reoccurred is fatal to their express warranty claim. Plaintiffs rely on two out-of-circuit cases in support of their position. See Benkle v. Ford Motor Co., No. SA CV ...


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