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Anne Humphreys v. Budget Rent A Car System Inc.

March 4, 2013

ANNE HUMPHREYS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
BUDGET RENT A CAR SYSTEM INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

This case was stayed pending the resolution of a nearly identical case on summary judgment. Following disposition of the first case and a status conference with all parties, Plaintiff, Anne Humphreys, filed a motion to amend her Complaint seeking to add certain claims. For the reasons stated below, I will grant the Plaintiff's motion.

I.Background

Humphreys initiated this action on March 25, 2010, by filing a three-count Complaint, alleging violations of the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") and the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Uniformity Act ("PFCUA") and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act. Humphreys has alleged the following pertinent facts and circumstances.

In July 2008, Humphreys rented a car from Budget in Florida and declined loss damage waiver ("LDW") coverage when she entered into the rental agreement. The rental document provided that if the renter declined to purchase LDW and the car is lost or damaged, the renter is liable for either the estimated repair cost or, if Budget decides to sell the car, "the difference between the car's fair market retail value before it was damaged and the sale proceeds." (Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint, Ex. 1 at ¶ 8). The rental document also provided that the renter is responsible to pay for the loss-of-use of the car, without regard to fleet utilization, plus an administrative fee, and towing and storage charges. (Id.) Humphreys signed the rental document. (Id. at ¶¶ 1-2).

While in Florida, Humphreys' rental car sustained damage and Budget elected to replace the car rather than repair it. Humphreys was notified that, because she declined LDW, she owed Budget $11,225.55 for the replacement of the car. The fair market retail value of the car prior to the damage that occurred while it was in Humphreys' possession was $17,434.12, and Budget subtracted the salvage proceeds, $6,775, to arrive at a subtotal of $10,659.12. Budget also charged Humphreys $416.43 for the loss of use of the car for thirty days. Finally, Budget applied the $150.00 fee for appraisal, evaluation, and administrative expenses.

Humphreys' credit card company declined to cover the claim because Humphreys did not provide the company notification that she would seek coverage as a result of the incident until she received Budget's letter with the final damages calculation. On March 2, 2009, Humphreys informed Budget that she would not pay the damages assessed. Therefore, on April 10, 2009, Humphreys was sent a demand for payment of the $11,255.55 owed to Budget.

II.Procedural History

Plaintiff filed the initial complaint on March 25, 2010. On May 10, 2010, Defendants filed a Motion for a More Definite Statement under Rule 12(e). I ordered, upon the parties' request, that discovery be stayed and the Defendant's Motion be denied without prejudice pending the resolution of a summary judgment motion in Benson v. Budget Rent A Car System, Inc., No. 08-4512.*fn1 Upon resolution of the Benson case, I scheduled a telephone conference between Budget and Humphreys to discuss the resolution of the case. At that conference, Humphreys indicated that the Benson decision did not apply to her case because Florida and not Pennsylvania law applied to the claims in her case.

On April 13, 2012, I issued an order directing the parties to discuss the application of the Benson decision to the Humphreys case as well as the choice of law issue raised by the Plaintiff in the telephone conference. Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint along with the response to my April order on April 30, 2012 (Doc. Nos. 24 & 25). Defendant replied. I will address the motion to amend in light of the Benson decision.

III.Discussion

Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may amend its pleading at any time by leave of the court, which "shall be freely given when justice so requires." If the movant has at least colorable grounds for relief, justice requires allowing amendments unless the movant is guilty of undue delay or bad faith, if the amendment would unduly prejudice the opposing party or if the amendment would be futile. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178 (1962); Dole v. Arco Chem. Co., 921 F.2d 484, 487 (3d Cir. 1990); Air Products and Chem., Inc. v. Eaton Metal Prod. Co., 256 F. Supp.2d 329, 332 (E.D. Pa. 2003).

The non-moving party must "show that it was unfairly disadvantaged or deprived of the opportunity to present facts or evidence which it would have offered had the . . . amendments been timely." Bechtel v. Robinson, 886 F.2d 644, 652 (3d Cir. 1989).

In her Amended Complaint Plaintiff has added causes of action for breach of contract and unconscionability based upon the facts alleged in the original Complaint. She has expanded the proposed classes to include class members who live anywhere in the United States (not just Pennsylvania), and to include class members who rented cars anywhere in the United States (not just Florida). Plaintiff argues that she has revised her allegations and claims in recognition of the Court's ...


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