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Schmidt v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 20, 2013

JASON SCHMIDT, et al.,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant. on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,

MEMORANDUM

EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, District Judge.

Ford Motor Company (Defendant) moves to dismiss various counts in the present Complaint: Count I-breach of express warranty-as to all but Jason Schmidt; Counts II, IV, and V-claims of breach of implied warranty under Pennsylvania, California, and Arkansas law, respectively; Counts VI, VII, and VIII-claims of fraud and violations of Pennsylvania, California, and Arkansas state consumer protection laws, respectively; Counts IX, X, and XI-claims of negligent misrepresentation under Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California law, respectively; and Counts XII, XIII, and XV-claims of unjust enrichment/restitution under Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Arkansas laws, respectively.[1] For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion and dismiss Count I as to all plaintiffs save Jason Schmidt, as well as Counts II, IV-XIII, and XV.

I. BACKGROUND

Seven named plaintiffs (hereinafter Plaintiffs) seek recovery for a national class of consumers alleging breach of express warranty, and each individual plaintiff seeks recovery for a statewide class wherein he or she is domiciled, seeking relief for breach of implied warranty, common law fraud and violations of respective state consumer protection statutes, negligent misrepresentation, and/or unjust enrichment. Both monetary and injunctive relief are sought. Amend. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 16.

Plaintiffs allege that, between 2004 and 2008, Defendant manufactured, assembled, and marketed a class of vehicles equipped with 5.4 L V8 engines. Id . ¶ 3. Plaintiffs further allege these engines contain latent defects that cause the fitted vehicles to experience, inter alia, acceleration hesitation, loss of revolutions per minute, stalling, loss of power, and sudden and intermittent deceleration. Id . ¶ 4. Plaintiffs further allege that one of five engine components could be the source of the malfunctions: the Powertrain Control Module (PCM), the Transmission Control Module (TCM), the Electronic Throttle Control (ETC), or the Throttle Body Assembly (TBA). Id . ¶ 5. Defendant issued five technical service bulletins (TSBs) to notify its dealership network of the procedures necessary to fix the problem. Id . ¶ 7. Plaintiffs claim a federally mandated warranty covers the engines in question. Id . ¶ 65. The alleged warranty is valid for the first eight years of the vehicle's life or for the first 80, 000 miles driven, whichever comes first. Id . ¶¶ 15, 65.

The named plaintiffs are Jason and Nicholas Schmidt, Stephen Gooder, Frank Kurian, Lee Pullen, and Victor and Keesha Rose. Jason Schmidt is a New Jersey resident who purchased a used 2005 Ford Explorer in 2012. Id . ¶ 48. The vehicle has approximately 66, 000 on the odometer. Id . Once while he was driving on a highway, his Explorer malfunctioned and completely lost power, although he safely stopped the vehicle on the shoulder. Id . ¶ 20. He brought the Explorer to a Ford dealership, explained the issue, and was told that the PCM needed replacing, but that there was no applicable warranty to cover the repair cost. Id . ¶ 21. He then contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and lodged a complaint concerning the malfunction. Id . ¶ 22. He further alleges that an online search revealed that the issue he experienced was "pervasive to the Class of Vehicles." Id . ¶ 22. He also emailed Ford's vice president to explain the engine defect and received a telephone call shortly afterward informing him of his "case number with Ford, " although he was not offered a refund during the call. Id . ¶ 24.

Nicholas Schmidt is also a New Jersey resident who purchased a used 2004 Lincoln Navigator in 2007. The vehicle has approximately 69, 500 miles on the odometer. No defects have manifested in the vehicle. Id . ¶ 40. Nonetheless, he claims that the existence of a latent defect reduced the value and usefulness of his vehicle and caused him to overpay for his vehicle. Id.

Frank Kurian is a Pennsylvania resident, id. ¶ 49, who purchased a used 2005 Ford F-150 truck in 2012 that has approximately 125, 000 miles on the odometer, id. He does not seek recovery under theories of breach of express warranty or unjust enrichment. Id . No defect has manifested in his vehicle, although he also alleges that, due to the defect's latency, he overpaid for his vehicle and it suffered a reduction in usefulness and value. Id.

Lee Pullen is a California Resident, id. ¶ 50, who purchased a used 2005 Ford expedition in 2009 that has approximately 94, 000 miles on the odometer. Id . He alleges that because he was never informed of any applicability warranty covering the costs of repair, he paid out-of-pocket to replace the vehicle's throttle body at Gregg's Mission Viejo Mobil in California. Id.

Victor and Keesha Rose are Arkansas residents who purchased a used 2005 Ford Expedition in 2008 that has approximately 94, 000 miles on the odometer. Id . ¶ 51. They do not seek recovery under theories of breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, or restitution. They do not seek recovery under theories of breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, or restitution. Id . They allege that a defect has manifested itself in their vehicle, causing losses of power during its operation. Id . They do not allege that they attempted to fix the issue or that they suffered out-of-pocket expenses because of the defect.

Stephen Gooder is an Illinois resident who purchased a 2005 Ford Expedition in October, 2012. Id . ¶ 53. His vehicle has approximately 122, 287 miles on the odometer. Id . On December 1, 2012, he alleges that his vehicle lost power while he was driving it. Id . ¶ 44. Although he safely guided the vehicle to a gas station parking lot, restarted the engine, and drove home without further incident, he claims he experienced the same problem at least six more times since then. Id . He took the vehicle to a Ford dealership where he paid out-of-pocket to replace the throttle body. Id . ¶ 45-46.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 26, 2013, Plaintiffs filed the First Amended Complaint. First Am. Comp. ¶ 1, ECF No. 16. The First Amended Complaint ...


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