United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
JOSHUA RIAUBIA, individually and for all persons similarly situated, Plaintiff,
HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA, Defendant.
Darnell Jones, II J.
Joshua Riaubia purchased a 2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited in
August of 2014. That vehicle, along with various other
models, comes equipped with a “Smart Trunk, ” a
feature that is advertised by Hyundai Motor America
(“Defendant” or “HMA”) as being able
to “automatically open the trunk fully, or at least
wide enough for a person to deposit bulky items into the
trunk - such as shopping bags, duffle bags, and sports
equipment - without having to put the items down or manually
open the trunk lid.” Compl. ¶ 3. Plaintiff claims
that, despite those representations, “the Smart Trunk
is defective in that it will frequently fail to open more
than a few inches, ” and sometimes it “never
open[s] more than a crack.” Id. at ¶ 4.
Riaubia is a citizen of Pennsylvania, and HMA is a California
corporation. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.
recover for damages caused by this alleged defect, Plaintiff
brings a series of claims under federal and state law on
behalf of himself and a putative class of purchasers of
various Hyundai models equipped with the same allegedly
defective Smart Trunk feature: (1) violation of
California's Unfair Competition Law; (2) violation of
California's False Advertising Law; (3) violation of
California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act; (4) breach of
express warranty under Pennsylvania law; (5) breach of
implied warranty of merchantability under Pennsylvania law;
(6) violation of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and,
in the alternative, (7) unjust enrichment.
has moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule
12(b)(6) on various grounds, including lack of standing and
failure to allege a defect, or any wrongful act. Defendant
also challenges Plaintiff's right to bring an alternative
unjust enrichment claim or pursue a nationwide class action
under California law. For the following reasons, the motion
is denied in all respects.
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, courts must “accept
all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine
whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the
plaintiff may be entitled to relief.” Phillips v.
County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Nevertheless, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of
a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
do not suffice.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578
F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
standard, which applies to all civil cases, “asks for
more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
“[A]ll civil complaints must now set out sufficient
factual matter to show that the claim is facially
plausible.” Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210 (internal
quotation marks omitted). “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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).
has successfully defended against HMA's 12(b)(6) motion.
Contrary to Defendant's assertions, Riaubia has standing
to bring this class action. And the Complaint states
consumer-fraud and warranty claims, as well as a properly
pleaded alternative unjust enrichment claim.
Plaintiff Has Standing to Bring this Class
establish Article III standing in a class action, at least
one of the named plaintiffs must show “(1) an
‘injury in fact, ' (2) a sufficient ‘causal
connection between the injury and the conduct complained of,
' and (3) a ‘likel[ihood]' that the injury
‘will be redressed by a favorable decision.'”
Neale v. Volvo Cars of N. Am., LLC, 794 F.3d 353,
358-59 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing Susan B. Anthony List v.
Driehaus, 134 S.Ct. 2334, 2341 (2014) (alterations in
original) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife,
504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992)). Riaubia has standing to bring
this class action because, like the absent class members, he
has allegedly suffered economic injury from purchasing a
vehicle of the same make with the same allegedly
non-conforming Smart Trunk feature. See Neale v. Volvo
Cars of N. Am., LLC, 794 F.3d 353 (3d Cir. 2015)
(finding that the named plaintiff had standing to represent
absent class members based on his own alleged injury).
does not disagree that Plaintiff has standing to bring his
own claim; rather it challenges his standing to represent
absent class members that suffered the same injury but from
purchasing different vehicle models. Def.'s
Opening Br. 4-6. Defendant's argument is unavailing.
“[O]nce the named parties have demonstrated they are
properly before the court, ” adequacy of representation
becomes “one of compliance with the [class
certification] provisions of Rule 23, not one of Article III
standing.” Neale, 794 F.3d at 361 (citing
In re Prudential, 148 F.3d 283, 307 (3d Cir.1998)
(quoting Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co., 777 F.2d 113,
122 (3d Cir.1985), aff'd, 482 U.S. 656 (1987)).
more persuasive cases cited by the parties confirm this rule
in class actions where, like this one, absent members were
allegedly injured by the same non-conforming feature of
different models of the same product, manufactured or
distributed by the same defendants based on uniform
representations. See, e.g., NECA-IBEW Health &
Welfare Fund v. Goldman Sachs & Co., 693 F.3d 145,
158 (2d Cir. 2012) (“But whether [the named plaintiff]
has ‘class standing'- that is, standing to assert
claims on behalf of purchasers of Certificates from
other Offerings, or from different tranches of the same
Offering-does not turn on whether [the plaintiff] would have
statutory or Article III standing to seek recovery for
misleading statements in those Certificates' Offering
Documents.”) (emphasis in original); Marcus v. BMW
of N. Am., LLC, 687 F.3d 583, 599 (3d Cir. 2012)
(“When a class includes purchasers of a variety of
different products, a named plaintiff that purchases only one
type of product satisfies the typicality requirement if the
alleged misrepresentations or omissions apply uniformly
across the different product types.”).
improperly relies on a dissenting opinion in Gratz v.
Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003), an equal protection case
involving the use of race in college admissions, for the
proposition that a named plaintiff's and absent class
members' “injury-in-fact” must have been
caused by the identical product. Def.'s Br. at 4. In
Gratz, Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for a
minority, raised the issue of Article III standing sua
sponte on the grounds that the named plaintiff had not
alleged any “real and immediate” personal injury,
only a “conjectural or hypothetical” one, and
that his alleged injury as a potential transfer student did
not give him standing to represent an absent class of college
freshman because the university used different race-based
admissions standards for transfer students and freshmen
applicants. Gratz, 539 U.S. at 260-63. The
Court's majority disagreed, and concluded that the named
plaintiff's own injury was sufficient for standing and
that any difference in the use of race in transfer versus
freshman undergraduate admissions did not “implicate a
significantly different set of concerns” to undermine
the named plaintiff's ...