Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division

February 27, 2017

IN RE TAKATA AIRBAG PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION MDL No. 2599 THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO ALL ECONOMIC LOSS TRACK CASES 15-2599-MD-MORENO

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART FORD MOTOR COMPANY'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          FEDERICO A. MORENO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This multidistrict litigation ("MDL") consolidates allegations of economic loss and personal injury related to airbags manufactured by defendants Takata Corporation and TK Holdings (collectively, "Takata") and equipped in vehicles manufactured by defendants Honda, BMW, Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota (collectively, the "Automotive Defendants") (collectively with Takata, the "Defendants"). This cause comes before the Court upon Ford Motor Company's ("Ford['s]") Motion to Dismiss (D.E. 612). The Court has reviewed the Motion, Plaintiffs' Omnibus Response (D.E. 658) and Ford's Reply (D.E. 694). Additionally, the parties raised some of their briefed arguments at oral argument. Ford's Motion asks the Court to dismiss all counts alleged against it in the Second Amended Economic Loss Complaint (D.E. 579).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs in this case are consumers of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags containing ammonium nitrate as a propellant. The Court has divided the MDL's component cases into two tracks: an economic loss track for plaintiffs alleging purely economic damages and a personal injury track for plaintiffs alleging damages to a person. This order pertains to the economic loss track cases. In the Complaint, Plaintiffs allege 11 counts against Ford.[1]

         These 11 counts against Ford consist of the following: Count 3 for violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act; Count 20 for fraudulent concealment; Count 21 for breach of Michigan's implied warranty of merchantability; Count 22 for unjust enrichment; Count 23 for violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act; Count 24 for negligence; Count 47 for violation of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act on behalf of a Florida sub-class; Count 48 for breach of Florida's implied warranty of merchantability on behalf of a Florida subclass; Count 87 for violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act on behalf of an Ohio subclass; Count 97 for violation of Texas's Deceptive Trade Practices Act on behalf of a Texas subclass; and Count 98 for breach of Texas's implied warranty of merchantability on behalf of a Texas sub-class.[2]

         These 11 counts arise out of seven Named Plaintiffs' Ford purchases. The seven Named Plaintiffs are: (1) Joseph Aliscio; (2) John Huebner; (3) Eugennie Sinclair; (4) Brooks Weisblat; (5) Nancy Barnett; (6) Alicia Benton and (7) Teresa Woodard.[3] The relevant information as to each Named Plaintiff is as follows:

• Aliscio, a Florida resident, purchased a used 2004 Ford Ranger in October 2009 in Florida. Aliscio's claims were transferred into the MDL from the Southern District of Florida.
• Barnett, a Texas resident, purchased a used 2007 Ford Mustang in July 2008 in Texas. Barnett's claims were direct-filed into the MDL.
• Benton, a South Carolina resident, purchased a used 2010 Ford Mustang in August 2010 in South Carolina. Benton's claims were direct-filed into the MDL.
• Huebner, a California resident, purchased a used 2005 Ford Mustang in March 2011 in California. Huebner's claims were transferred into the MDL from the Western District of Pennsylvania.
• Sinclair, a Florida resident, purchased a used 2007 Ford Mustang in September 2012 in Florida. Sinclair's claims were direct-filed into the MDL.
• Weisblat, a Florida resident, purchased a used 2005 Ford GT in February 2011 in Florida. Weisblat's claims were transferred into the MDL from the Southern District of Florida.
• Woodard, a South Carolina resident, purchased a new 2005 Ford Mustang in 2005 in South Carolina. Woodard's claims were direct-filed into the MDL.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         "A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain ... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To survive a motion to dismiss, a "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but a pleading must offer more than "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of the cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         Where a cause of action sounds in fraud, however, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) must be satisfied in addition to the more relaxed standard of Rule 8. Under Rule 9(b), "a party must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake, " although "conditions of a person's mind, " such as malice, intent, and knowledge may be alleged generally. Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). "The 'particularity' requirement serves an important purpose in fraud actions by alerting defendants to the precise misconduct with which they are charged and protecting defendants against spurious charges of immoral and fraudulent behavior." W. Coast Roofing & Waterproofing, Inc. v. Johns Manville, Inc., 287 F.App'x 81, 86 (11th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Choice of Law Analysis

         Plaintiffs assert two counts against Ford arising only under Michigan law and one count arising only under Ohio law.[4] Counts 21 and 23 allege violations of Michigan's implied warranty of merchantability and the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, respectively. Count 87 alleges violations of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act. The Court also treats Count 24 as arising only under Michigan law even though Plaintiffs pleaded the count under alternative laws in their Second Amended Economic Loss Complaint.[5] Ford argues that the counts asserting claims under Michigan and Ohio law should be dismissed because "[n]one of the Ford Plaintiffs reside in Michigan or Ohio, or purchased their vehicles in Michigan or Ohio." (D.E. 612 at 35). The choice of law analysis set forth in the Court's order on Mazda's motion to dismiss (D.E. 1099) (the "Mazda Order") applies and for the same reasons, Counts 21, 23, 24 and 87 must be dismissed.[6]

         Applying the analysis from the Mazda Order, Florida's choice of law rules apply to the claims brought by Aliscio, Barnett, Benton, Sinclair, Weisblat, and Woodard because their cases were either transferred into the MDL from the Southern District of Florida or filed directly into the MDL. Pennsylvania's choice of law rules apply to Huebner's claims because his case was transferred into the MDL from the Western District of Pennsylvania.

         i. Florida Choice of Law Rules

         This Court, in its order on BMW's motion to dismiss (D.E. 1256 at 9), discussed its analysis on Florida's choice of law, which is especially applicable to the claims against Ford.

         ii. Pennsylvania Choice of Law Rules

         Pennsylvania "employs a 'flexible rule' which combines the 'significant contacts' analysis of Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws §145 and a 'governmental interest analysis."' In re Tylenol (Acetaminophen) Mktg., No. 13-md-02436, 2015 WL 2417411, at *2 (May 20, 2015 E.D. Pa.) (citing Griffith v. United Air Lines, Inc., 203 A.2d 796, 805 (Pa. 1964)). Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has stated, "[t]he merit of such a rule is that it gives to the place having the most interest in the problem paramount control over the legal issues arising out of a particular factual context and thereby allows the forum to apply the policy of the jurisdiction most intimately concerned with the outcome of the particular litigation." Griffith, 203 A.2d at 806 (internal quotations omitted). Pennsylvania "permits analysis of the policies and interests underlying the particular issue before the court and directs courts to apply the law of the state with the most interest in the problem." Travelers Prop. Cas. Co. of Am. v. Chubb Custom Ins. Co., 864 F.Supp.2d 301, 308 (E.D. Pa. 2012) (quoting Specialty Surfaces Int'l, Inc. v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 609 F.3d 223, 229 (3d Cir. 2010)).

         For the reasons stated in the Mazda Order, [7] the Court finds that under Florida's and Pennsylvania's choice of law rules, Michigan and Ohio law should not apply to the instant actions filed originally in Florida and Pennsylvania. No Plaintiff is a resident of Michigan or Ohio, claims to be a resident of either state at the time they purchased their Ford vehicles, or filed their complaint in either state. Furthermore, no Plaintiff alleges that they purchased their Ford vehicles in Michigan or Ohio or that they perceived any allegedly deceptive advertisements about Ford in either state. It appears the only contact Michigan has to Plaintiffs' claims is that Ford is headquartered in Michigan. The Court finds that the interests that Florida and Pennsylvania have to Plaintiffs' claims is greater than the attenuated contact to either Michigan or Ohio.

         Applying Florida's choice of law rules, Florida substantive law applies to the claims brought by Aliscio, Sinclair, and Weisblat because they purchased their vehicles in Florida and reside in Florida. Florida's choice of law rules also dictate that Texas law applies to Barnett's claims because she purchased her vehicle and resides in Texas, and South Carolina law applies to the claims alleged by Benton and Woodard because they purchased their vehicles in South Carolina and reside in South Carolina. Applying Pennsylvania's choice of law rules to Huebner's claims, California law governs, as the purported harm would have occurred in California, where he purchased his vehicle.

         Because neither Michigan nor Ohio law govern the claims brought against Ford, Ford's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED as to the counts exclusively alleging claims under Michigan or Ohio law. Accordingly, Count 21, Count 23, Count 24, and Count 87 are DISMISSED.

         B. Manifestation of Alleged Defect

         Consistent with the Court's Mazda Order, [8] the Court agrees with Plaintiffs' argument regarding manifestation. As stated in the Mazda Order, the Court's finding is limited to the motion to dismiss stage, taking as true Plaintiffs' allegations of a uniform defect based on the use of ammonium nitrate as a propellant. The Court notes that Defendants have raised the possibility of other causes and factors contributing to the airbag inflator malfunctions. Accordingly, these factors may be appropriately considered at the summary judgement stage.

         C. Ford's Knowledge

         Consistent with the Court's Mazda Order, [9] the Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged Ford's knowledge of the alleged inflator defect ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.