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Julie Williams, On Behalf of Herself and All Others Similarly v. Enterprise Holdings

March 20, 2013


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


Currently pending before the Court is Defendants Enterprise Holdings, Inc., EAN Services, LLC, and Enterprise Leasing Company of Philadelphia, LLC's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Julie William's Complaint. For the following reasons, the Motion is granted.


This suit is the result of a rental car agreement between Plaintiff Julie Williams and Defendant Enterprise Leasing Company of Philadelphia ("Enterprise"), which is a subsidiary of parent companies and co-defendants EAN Services, LLC and Enterprise Holdings, Inc.*fn1

According to the facts as set forth in the Complaint, Plaintiff, a California resident, rented a vehicle from Enterprise on March 8, 2012 at the Philadelphia International Airport. (Compl. ¶ 15, 27.) This agreement included a section in which Ms. Williams agreed that, if there were any damages to the vehicle, she would be responsible for such damages pursuant to Pennsylvania law. (Id.) The amount of damages to be charged to the consumer is set forth in the contract itself and includes charges for (1) diminishment of value to the vehicle, (2) the cost of repair for the vehicle when the damages are above $500, (3) the loss of use of the vehicle, and (4) an administrative fee. (Id. ¶ 2.) If a customer elects to have insurance coverage provided by Enterprise, however, some of these fees will not be charged directly to the customer. (Id. ¶ 3.)

After Ms. Williams returned the vehicle, Enterprise charged Ms. Williams $707.99 in damages, including $509.96 in alleged actual repair costs, a $100 administration fee, $45.81 for loss of use of the vehicle, and $52.22 in diminished value of the vehicle. (Id. ¶¶ 28--29.) Ms. Williams paid her bill for the damages under protest. (Id. ¶ 30.)

Ms. Williams brought the current suit on September 27, 2012 as a class action on behalf of herself and all persons similarly situated. (Id. ¶ 32.) She defines the class as "All current and former Enterprise customers who rented a vehicle from Enterprise and were charged unlawful penalties within the past four years of filing this complaint and up through the present in the State of Wisconsin, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New York. (Id. ¶ 34.) The Complaint alleges in Count I that Defendants breached their contract with Plaintiff by charging her unlawful penalties. In Count II, the Complaint alleges that Defendants were unjustly enriched as a result of charging Plaintiff unlawful penalties. On November 30, 2012, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss all Counts of the Complaint. Plaintiffs filed a Response in Opposition on January 4, 2013. Defendants filed a Reply brief on January 25, 2013, making this matter ripe for consideration.


Under Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P.12(b)(6); see also Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the United States Supreme Court recognized that "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. Following these basic dictates, the Supreme Court, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), subsequently defined a two-pronged approach to a court's review of a motion to dismiss. "First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678. Thus, although "Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era . . . it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Id. at 678--79. Second, the Supreme Court emphasized that "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. A complaint does not show an entitlement to relief when the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct. Id.; see also Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232--34 (3d Cir. 2008) (holding that: (1) factual allegations of complaint must provide notice to defendant; (2) complaint must allege facts suggestive of the proscribed conduct; and (3) the complaint's "'factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level'") (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)).

Notwithstanding these new dictates, the basic tenets of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard of review have remained static. Spence v. Brownsville Area Sch. Dist., No. Civ.A.08-626, 2008 WL 2779079, at *2 (W.D. Pa. July 15, 2008). The general rules of pleading still require only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and need not contain detailed factual allegations. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233. Further, the court must "accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). Finally, the court must "determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Pinkerton v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002).


A. Plaintiff's Breach of Contract Claim

Defendants seek to dismiss the Breach of Contract claim on multiple grounds. They first allege that Plaintiff's breach of contract claim is barred by the voluntary payment doctrine. Second, they allege that there can be no breach of contract claim because there was never any actual breach. Finally, they state that Plaintiff's argument that the damage clause of the contract ...

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