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Friedberg v. Maserati North America, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 1, 2018

MICHAEL FRIEDBERG, Plaintiff,
v.
MASERATI NORTH AMERICA, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          Schiller, J.

         Michael Friedberg sued Maserati North America, Inc. after he leased a Maserati vehicle that had significant defects. Friedberg brought several claims against Maserati, including one under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA). Maserati moves to dismiss the MMWA claim. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In April 2017, Michael Friedberg leased a new Maserati vehicle from F.C. Kerbeck & Sons, a New Jersey car dealer. (Compl. ¶ 8.) According to Friedberg, the dealer issued him several warranties outlined in a warranty booklet. (Id. ¶ 7.)

         Soon after he leased the car, Friedberg noticed significant problems with it, including an oil leak, a defective rear differential, and various other defects. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) He had the car repaired multiple times, but the issues remained. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.) Naturally, the defects have limited Friedberg's ability to use the car. (Id. ¶ 6.)

         Because of the defects, Friedberg sued Maserati, alleging, among other things, a violation of the MMWA. Maserati now moves to dismiss Friedberg's MMWA claim.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a district court must accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Bd. of Trs. of Bricklayers & Allied Craftsmen Local 6 of N.J. Welfare Fund v. Wettlin Assocs., 237 F.3d 270, 272 (3d Cir. 2001). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although the federal rules do not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, a plaintiff must present “enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element[s]” of a cause of action. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). If the court can only infer “the mere possibility of misconduct, ” the complaint must be dismissed because it has failed to show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Maserati argues that Friedberg's MMWA claim should be dismissed because the MMWA only protects consumers who purchased a vehicle, not those who, like Friedberg, leased. The Court disagrees.

         At the outset, the Court notes that although the Complaint alleges that Friedberg purchased a car from Maserati, the parties now agree that he leased it. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 1-2; Pl.'s Resp. at 2.) Thus, the Court decides the motion to dismiss based on the fact that Friedberg is a lessee.

         The question, then, is whether Friedberg, as a lessee, has a right to sue Maserati under the MMWA. The statute provides a cause of action to “a consumer who is damaged by the failure of a . . . warrantor” to comply with a written or implied warranty. 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d). The statute defines “consumer” in three ways:

[1] a buyer (other than for purposes of resale) of any consumer product,
[2] any person to whom such product is transferred during the duration of an implied or written warranty (or service ...

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