United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division
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
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).
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.
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.
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. 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
• 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
• 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.
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.
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
Choice of Law Analysis
assert two counts against Ford arising only under Michigan
law and one count arising only under Ohio law. 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. 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
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.
Florida Choice of Law Rules
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.
Pennsylvania Choice of Law Rules
"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)).
reasons stated in the Mazda Order,  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.
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.
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
Manifestation of Alleged Defect
with the Court's Mazda Order,  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.
with the Court's Mazda Order,  the Court finds that
Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged Ford's knowledge of
the alleged inflator defect ...