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Mobile Conversions, Inc. v. Allegheny Ford Truck Sales

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 9, 2013



TERRENCE F. McVERRY, District Judge.

Before the Court for disposition is the MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6); MOTION TO STRIKE AMENDED COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO FED.R.CIV.P. 12(f), with brief in support, filed by Defendant Allegheny Ford Truck Sales ("Allegheny Ford") (ECF Nos. 30 and 31), the OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S SECOND MOTION TO DISMISS OR STRIKE, filed by Plaintiff, Mobile Conversions, Inc. (ECF No. 33), and the REPLY BRIEF filed by Allegheny Ford. The matter has been thoroughly briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Factual and Procedural Background

As the law requires, at this stage of the proceeding all disputed facts and inferences are to be resolved in favor of Plaintiff, the non-moving party.

By way of background, Plaintiff is in the business of building custom mobile medical and dental facilities for mobile health screening and imaging. Plaintiff's customer ordered a coach with particular specifications and required that the coach be a Freightliner or a Sterling cab and chassis product and that it be equipped with an air ride suspension system recommended and approved by the manufacturer and installed to factory specifications. Amended Complaint, at §§ 1, 10.

Plaintiff found "a cab and chassis that suited the specifications at [Allegheny Ford], but the truck did not conform to the required cab to axle dimension and had a spring suspension system." Id. at § 13. Before purchasing the truck, Michael G. Dobbins, President of Mobile Conversions, Inc., "specifically asked for [Allegheny Ford] to equip the cab and chassis that he wanted to purchase with the air ride suspension system recommended by the manufacturer for this model of cab and chassis and to install it pursuant to factory specifications." Id. at 15.

Based on Allegheny Ford's representations, Plaintiff purchased a 2008 Sterling Acterra truck from Allegheny Ford for use in building the custom coach ordered by its customer. Plaintiff's representative accepted the vehicle, received a Sales Agreement/Vehicle Invoice ("Sales Agreement"), and signed the Delivery Acceptance Receipt.

The Amended Complaint avers that Plaintiff's customer was able to use the coach for only six (6) weeks before the transmission in the truck completely failed. Id. at 24. Plaintiff alleges that "[t]he air ride suspension system installed by [Allegheny Ford] was not suitable to the cab and chassis purchased by Mobile Conversions, Inc. and the transmission failed as a direct result of unusual loading caused by the wrong air ride system having been installed on the truck by [Allegheny Ford].

Plaintiff filed its original Complaint on May 10, 2012, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division. On October 15, 2012, the case was transferred to this Court. Plaintiff filed a seven-count Amended Complaint on February 15, 2013, in which it brought claims for negligence, breach of contract, breach of implied warranty for a particular purpose, breach of express warranty, violation of Ohio Consumer Fraud Statute, and gross negligence. In response, Allegheny Ford filed the instant Motion to Dismiss For Failure to State a Claim/Motion to Strike in which it seeks to dismiss and/or strike Plaintiff's claims of negligence, breach of implied warranty for a particular purpose, breach of express warranty, violation of Ohio Consumer Fraud Statute, and gross negligence. Allegheny Ford has not moved to dismiss or strike Plaintiff's claim for breach of contract.

After careful review of the filings, the Motion to Dismiss/Motion to Strike will be granted in part and denied in part.

Standard of Review

a. 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss pursuant Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiently of the complaint, which may be dismissed for the "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all well-pleaded facts and allegations, and must draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the plaintiff. Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 62 F.3d 212, 220 (3d Cir. 2011), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___ , 131 S.Ct. 1861 (2012) (citing In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 314 (3d Cir. 2010)). However, as the Supreme Court of the United States made clear in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, such "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007).

The Supreme Court later refined this approach in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, emphasizing the requirement that a complaint must state a plausible claim for relief in order to survive a motion to dismiss. 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Nevertheless, "the plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, '" but requires a plaintiff to show "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

To determine the legal sufficiency of a complaint after Twombly and Iqbal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit instructs that a district court must make a three-step approach when presented with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 n.7 (3d Cir. 2010) (noting that although Iqbal describes the process as a "two-pronged approach, " it views the case as outlining three steps) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675). First, "the court must tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Id. at 130 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675) (alteration in original). Second, the court "should identify allegations that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.'" Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Third, "where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.'" Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

Accordingly, the Court must separate the factual and legal elements of the claim and "accept the factual allegations contained in the Complaint as true, but [ ] disregard rote recitals of the elements of a cause of action, legal conclusions, and mere conclusory statements." James v. City of Wilkes-Barre , 700 F.3d 675, 679 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Twombly; 550 U.S. at 555-57; Burtch, 662 F.3d at 220-21). The Court "must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief.' In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to show' such an entitlement with its facts." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). The determination for "plausibility" will be "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

However, nothing in Twombly or Iqbal changed the other pleading standards for a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 must still be met. See Phillips v. Co. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal citations omitted). The United States Supreme Court did not abolish the Rule 12(b)(6) requirement that "the facts must be taken as true and a complaint may not be dismissed merely because it appears unlikely that the plaintiff can prove those facts or will ultimately prevail on those merits." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 553). Rule 8 also still requires that a pleading contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-78 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). While this standard "does not require detailed factual allegations, ' [ ] it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation" and a "pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544-45). Simply put, Rule 8 "does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

(b) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that "[t]he court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." "The purpose of a motion to strike is to clean up the pleadings, streamline litigation, and avoid unnecessary forays into immaterial matters.'" Goode v. LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group, Inc., 284 F.R.D. 238, 243-44 (E.D. Pa. 2012) (quoting McInerney v. Moyer Lumber & Hardware, Inc., 244 F.Supp.2d 393 (E.D. Pa. 2002)). Relief under Rule 12(f) is generally disfavored and will be denied unless the allegations ...

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