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Gamboa v. Ford Motor Co.

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

August 27, 2019

LEN GAMBOA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, ROBERT BOSCH GMBH, ROBERT BOSCH LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO STRIKE [#78] AND DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS [#75; #76]

          Denise Page Hood, United States District Court Judge.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 10, 2018, Plaintiffs Len Gamboa, Jeff Retmier, Nikiah Nudell, David Bates, Pete Petersen, and William Sparks, individually, and on behalf of all other similarly situated individuals, filed a Complaint (the “Gamboa Action”) against Defendants Ford Motor Company (“Ford”), Robert Bosch GmbH (“Bosch GmbH”), and Robert Bosch LLC (“Bosch LLC”) (collectively, “Defendants”). (Doc # 1) Plaintiffs allege that Defendants unlawfully manufactured and sold defective vehicles that had defective emissions controls in violation of: the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), (d) (Count 1); and various state consumer protection statutes (Counts 2-57). (Id.)

         On April 6, 2018, Plaintiffs James Ruston, Vic Sparano, Andreas Alsdorf, Jeffrey Martin, Ken Ryan, Christopher Dieterick, Johnny Tolly, Kohen Marzolf, and Bruce Szepelak, individually, and on behalf of all other similarly situated individuals filed a Complaint (the “Ruston Action”)[1] against all Defendants from the Gamboa Action. In the Ruston Action, plaintiffs alleged that in connection with Ford's vehicles, Defendants were in violation of: RICO (Count 1); and various state consumer protection statutes (Counts 2-63).

         On April 20, 2018, Plaintiffs Glenn Goodroad, Jr., Richard Castro, Alan Flanders, Edward Hatten, Michael King, William McKnight, Luther “Ed” Palmer, Don Recker, Ivan Tellez, Brian Urban, Christina Bouyea, Value Additives LLC, and Michael Wilson, individually, and on behalf of all other similarly situated individuals filed a Complaint (the “Goodroad Action”)[2] against all Defendants from the Gamboa Action as well as James Hackett (“Hackett”), Mark Fields (“Fields”), and Volkmar Denner in the United States District Court, Northern District of California. In the Goodroad Action, plaintiffs alleged that in connection with Ford's vehicles, the defendants were in violation of: RICO (Count 1); and fraud by concealment (Count 2).

         On June 14, 2018, the plaintiffs and defendants in the Goodroad Action agreed to stipulate to a transfer of the case to the Eastern District of Michigan. On June 14, 2018, the Honorable Beth Labson Freeman signed a Stipulation and Order to Transfer the Class Action Complaint Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). On June 15, 2018, the Goodroad case was transferred from the Northern District of California to the Eastern District of Michigan.[3]

         On July 31, 2018, Dina Badagliacco (“Badagliacco”) individually, and on behalf of all other similarly situated individuals filed a Complaint (the “Badagliacco Action”)[4] against all Defendants from the Gamboa Action. In the Badagliacco Action, Badagliacco alleges that in connection with Ford's vehicles, Defendants were in violation of: RICO (Count 1); New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act (Count 2); and fraud by concealment under New Jersey common law (Count 3).

         On March 31, 2019, the Court consolidated the Gamboa Action, the Ruston Action, the Goodroad Action, and the Badagliacco Action. (Doc # 69) The Court gave all plaintiffs (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) from the four Actions the opportunity to file a single consolidated amended complaint (“CAC”), which Plaintiffs filed on May 1, 2019. (Doc # 73) Defendants filed separate Motions to Dismiss the CAC on May 31, 2019. (Doc # 75; Doc # 76) Responses and Replies were filed. (Doc # 80; Doc # 86; Doc # 91; Doc # 93)

         On June 17, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Strike Defendants' Motions to Dismiss. (Doc # 78) Defendants filed separate Responses to Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike on July 1, 2019. (Doc # 87; Doc # 88) On July 11, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their Reply. (Doc # 90) The Motions to Dismiss and Motion to Strike are currently before the Court and a hearing was held on July 31, 2019.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to Strike

         Plaintiffs argue that the Court should strike Defendants' Motions to Dismiss because it is Plaintiffs' belief that, in the Court's Order allowing Plaintiffs to file their CAC (Doc # 69), the Court only gave Defendants the ability to answer the CAC. Plaintiffs claim that the Court clearly indicated to the parties that the dismissal stage has ended, and that Defendants are not permitted to raise any defenses that were or could have been raised previously. Plaintiffs further contend that Defendants will have the chance to raise any relevant arguments in a summary judgment motion at a later date, but assert that a motion to dismiss is improper at this juncture.

         Defendants claim that the Court gave them the opportunity to file an answer, and held that Defendants could file additional motions to dismiss. Defendants express that the Court declared that Defendants could revive and revisit their motions to dismiss in response to a consolidated complaint and that doing so would not unduly prejudice Plaintiffs. Defendants additionally argue that under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f), courts are not permitted to strike motions because they are not considered pleadings according to Fed.R.Civ.P. 7(a).

         Rule 12(f) permits a federal court to “strike from a pleading…any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). “A court has liberal discretion to strike such filings as it deems appropriate.” Van Loo v. Cajun Operating Co., 64 F.Supp.3d 1007, 1012 (E.D. Mich. 2014) (citation and internal marks omitted). While decisions regarding motions to strike are up to the discretion of the court, “[m]otions to strike are viewed with disfavor and are not frequently granted.” Operating Eng'rs Local 324 Health Care Plan v. G & W Constr. Co., 783 F.3d 1045, 1050 (6th Cir. 2015) (citing Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. United States, 201 F.2d 819, 822 (6th Cir. 1953)). A court should strike a matter if it “can confidently conclude that the portion of the pleading to which the motion is addressed is redundant or is both ...


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