United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Kathryn H. Vratil United States District Judge
March 31, 2017, plaintiffs filed their First Amended
Class Action Complaint (Doc. #23). Plaintiffs allege
that the cars which defendant manufactures have defective
dashboard touchscreens which black out and affect
drivers' ability to control radio, climate control and
navigation systems. See generally id. In particular,
plaintiffs assert violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty
Act (“MMWA”), 15 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.,
(Claim 1); a state law claim for breach of the implied
warranty of merchantability (Claim 2) and violations of the
Kansas Consumer Protection Act (“KCPA”), Kan.
Stat. Ann. § 50-623 et seq., (Claim 3).
Id. This matter comes before the Court on FCA
U.S. LLC's Motion To Dismiss First Amended Complaint, Or,
Alternatively, To Strike Nationwide Class Allegations
(Doc. #30) filed April 24, 2017. For reasons below, the Court
sustains defendant's motion in part.
ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R.
Civ. P., the Court assumes as true all well-pleaded factual
allegations and determines whether they plausibly give rise
to an entitlement of relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 679 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to state a
claim which is plausible - not merely conceivable - on its
face. Id. at 679-80; Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief, the
Court draws on its judicial experience and common sense.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The Court need not accept as
true those allegations which state only legal conclusions.
bear the burden of framing their claim with enough factual
matter to suggest that they are entitled to relief; it is not
enough to make threadbare recitals of a cause of action
accompanied by conclusory statements. See Twombly,
550 U.S. at 556. Plaintiffs make a facially plausible claim
by pleading factual content from which the Court can
reasonably infer that defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Plaintiffs must
show more than a sheer possibility that defendant has acted
unlawfully - it is not enough to plead facts that are
“merely consistent with” defendant's
liability. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 557). A pleading which offers labels and conclusions, a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action or
naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement will
not stand. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Similarly, where
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the Court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the pleading has
alleged - but has not “shown” - that the pleader
is entitled to relief. See id. at 679. The degree of
specificity necessary to establish plausibility and fair
notice depends on context because what constitutes fair
notice under Rule 8(a)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P., depends on the
type of case. Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242,
1248 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Phillips v. Allegheny,
515 F.3d 224, 232-33 (3d Cir. 2008)).
And Factual Background
Rasnic and Rebeca Lopez-Rasnic are Kansas residents.
First Amended Class Action Complaint (Doc.
#23), ¶¶ 13-14. FCA U.S. LLC (formerly known as
Chrysler) is a Delaware limited liability company that
manufactures cars. Id., ¶ 16. Highly
summarized, plaintiffs allege the following.
17, 2013, plaintiffs purchased a 2013 Dodge Dart - a car that
defendant manufactured. Id., ¶ 88.
Plaintiffs' car came with a “Uconnect”
infotainment system and a Basic Limited Warranty.
Id., ¶¶ 90-91. The Basic Limited Warranty
extended until the car reached 36, 000 miles or three years
from the date of purchase, whichever was earlier.
Id., ¶ 92. It “cover[ed] the cost of all
parts and labor needed to repair any item on [the] vehicle .
. . that [was] defective in material, workmanship or factory
preparation.” Id., ¶ 92, Ex. A at 5.
Uconnect system allows drivers to control radio, navigation,
remote locking, climate control and other features from a
touchscreen on the car's dashboard. Id.,
¶¶ 19-30. Consumers can purchase this optional
feature for Dodge cars which are model years from 2013
through 2016. Id., ¶¶ 28, 32-38. Defendant
featured its Uconnect system in many advertisements and
maintained a web site to educate consumers about the
infotainment system. Id., ¶¶ 38-64.
Plaintiffs do not allege that before purchasing their car,
they had seen or heard defendant's advertisements or
visited its web site.
approximately April of 2016, plaintiffs' Uconnect system
began to freeze and then shut off, leaving a blank, black
screen which did not function. Id., ¶¶
95-98. On April 23, 2016, plaintiffs took their car to a
service dealership for repair. Id., ¶ 99. At
this time, the warranty had not expired. Id. The
dealership could not repair the system, however, it replaced
the Uconnect system on May 14, 2016. Id.,
¶¶ 102-04. That same day, the replacement system
began to randomly black out. Id., ¶ 105. On
June 1, 2016, the dealership replaced the system's
module; after this, the screen began to flash back and forth
from black to white. Id., ¶¶ 105-107. On
June 30, 2016, defendant's specialist said that he had
fixed the car, but the screen blacked out again when
plaintiffs picked it up. Id., ¶¶ 108-114.
In early July, the dealership again replaced the Uconnect,
but the new system developed expanded issues. Id.,
¶¶ 117-121. The malfunctions prevented plaintiffs
from controlling their heating, air conditioning and
navigation. Id. Throughout the next few months, the
problems persisted as the dealership and defendant tried and
failed to repair the Uconnect system three more times.
Id., ¶¶ 122-150.
2013, defendant has issued 45 Technical Service Bulletins
(“TSBs”) to authorized technicians. Id.,
¶¶ 3-4. TSBs are instructions on how to repair
known defects, and they include a disclaimer prohibiting
public dissemination. Id. Plaintiffs allege that
three TSBs concerned the Uconnect in their car. Id.,
¶¶ 79-84. Defendant issued its first
Uconnect-related TSB in July of 2014. Id., ¶
January 12, 2017, plaintiffs filed a class action complaint
against defendant in the 29th Judicial District of Kansas,
Wyandotte County. Notice Of Removal (Doc. #1),
¶ 1. On February 2, 2017, defendant removed the case to
this Court. See Doc. #1. On March 31, 2017,
plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. First Amended
Class Action Complaint (Doc. #23). Plaintiffs assert
that by providing defective Uconnect systems, defendant
violated the MMWA (Claim 1), the implied warranty of
merchantability (Claim 2), and the KCPA (Claim 3). See
id., ¶¶ 191-232. Plaintiffs propose to
represent statewide and/or national classes of individuals
who purchased or leased cars with an 8.4-inch Uconnect
infotainment system on or after January 12, 2013.
Id., ¶¶ 181.
seeks dismissal of plaintiffs' claims under Rule
12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., or alternatively, to strike
nationwide class allegations. Motion To Dismiss
(Doc. #30). First, defendant asserts that the Court should
dismiss all of plaintiffs' claims because they fail to
allege a “specific defect.” FCA U.S.
LLC's Memorandum In Support Of Its Motion To Dismiss
First Amended Class Action Complaint, Or, Alternatively, To
Strike Nationwide Class Allegations (Doc. #31) filed
April 24, 2017 at 6-8. Second, defendant contends that
plaintiffs' MMWA claim fails because they did not allege
breach of an express warranty. Id. at 8-11. Third,
defendant argues that the alleged Uconnect malfunctions do
not breach the Kansas implied warranty of merchantability.
Id. at 11-13. Fourth, defendant seeks dismissal of
the KCPA claim because plaintiffs filed it after the statute
of limitations had expired and fail to allege the necessary
elements of a valid claim. Id. at 13-23. Defendant
also asks the Court to strike all nationwide allegations
because plaintiffs base their claims on Kansas law, which
cannot govern out-of-state transactions. Id. at
Failure To Plead A Specific Defect (Claims 1-3)
asserts that the Court should dismiss all of plaintiffs'
claims because they fail to adequately identify “a
specific defect.” Id. at 7 (quoting
Samarah v. Danek Med., Inc., 70 F.Supp.2d 1196, 1202
(D. Kan. 1999)). In particular, defendant claims that it
cannot properly begin to form its defense because plaintiffs
fail to provide adequate notice of the alleged defect in the
Uconnect systems. Id. at 6-8.
allege that defendant's Uconnect system would
“randomly black out, ” “freeze and then
shut off, leaving a blank, black screen, ” “flash
back and forth from black to white” and that these
malfunctions affected control of “the [h]eating, [a]ir
[c]onditioning, and [n]avigation.” First
Amended Class Action Complaint (Doc. #23),
¶¶ 95, 98, 108, 121. Although these allegations do
not identify the cause of these issues, they give defendant
fair notice of the grounds upon which plaintiffs' claims
rest. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
(pleadings “need only give the defendant fair notice of
what the claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests”); see also Burnett v. Mortg. Elec.
Registration Sys., 706 F.3d 1231, 1235 (10th Cir. 2013)
(plaintiff only needs to give fair notice of claim). Because
Rule 8, Fed. R. Civ. P., only requires fair notice,
plaintiffs do not need to identify the cause of a
“specific defect” in their complaint.
Id. Defendant attempts to heighten plaintiffs'
burden of pleading by relying on inapposite cases which
discuss motions for summary judgment and motions to compel,
not Rule 12(b)(6) motions, Fed.R.Civ.P. See Memorandum In
Support (Doc. #31) at 7 (citing Samarah, 70
F.Supp.2d at 1202); see also FCA U.S. LLC's Reply In
Support Of Its Motion To Dismiss First Amended Class Action
Complaint, Or, Alternatively, To Strike Nationwide
Allegations (Doc. #33) filed May 30, 2017 at 3 (citing
McGee v. Hayes, 43 Fed.Appx. 214, 217 (10th Cir.
2002); Turney v. DZ Bank AG Deutsche Zentral
Genossenschaftsbank, No. 09-2533-JWL, 2011 WL 1375587,
at *4 (D. Kan. Apr. 12, 2011)). Plaintiffs' allegations
provide defendant sufficient notice of the purported defect.
The Court overrules defendant's motion on this ground.
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.,
argues that plaintiffs fail to allege sufficient facts to
support a claim under the MMWA because they do not allege
breach of an express warranty - a necessary element of MMWA
claims. Memorandum In Support (Doc. #31) at 8-11.
Plaintiffs' warranty covered “the cost of all parts
and labor needed to repair” the vehicle if anything was
“defective in material, workmanship or factory
preparation.” Id. at 9 (quoting Basic Limited
Warranty). Defendant asserts that “it is
universally recognized” that material and workmanship
warranties like the Basic Limited Warranty do not cover
design defects. Id. Thus, defendant contends that
plaintiffs' alleged Uconnect defect cannot breach the
the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the
Court finds that they sufficiently allege that defendant
breached the warranty by failing to adequately repair the
car. Plaintiff's Opposition To FCA U.S. LLC's
Motion To Dismiss The First Amended Complaint (Doc. #32)
filed May 15, 2017 at 7. The Kansas Supreme Court has stated
that agreements similar to plaintiffs' warranty guarantee
repairs and replacement of defective parts - not
“performance without malfunction during the term of the
warranty.” See Voth v. Chrysler Motor Corp.,
218 Kan. 644, 648, 545 P.2d 371, 375 (1976). Plaintiffs'
amended complaint alleges approximately nine instances where
defendant's vehicle service location failed to fix their
Uconnect system. First Amended Class Action
Complaint (Doc. #23), ¶¶ 99-153 (multiple
instances occurred before warranty expired). Thus, they
adequately allege that defendant breached the warranty by
failing to repair plaintiffs' defective Uconnect system.
defendant fails to establish that, as a matter of Kansas law,
material and workmanship warranties exclude design defects.
Reply (Doc. #33) at 6. Again, defendant relies on
inapposite authority when stating that “it is
universally recognized that defects in design are not covered
by material and workmanship warranties.” Memorandum
In Support (Doc. #31) at 9. To prove Kansas law,
defendant cites an unpublished Ninth Circuit case applying
California law, an order from the Southern District of New
York applying New York law and an order from the District of
New Jersey deciding a motion for summary judgment under
Pennsylvania law. See id. at 9-10. These cases do
not reflect the relevant Kansas law. Id. at 9.
when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court does not
“weigh potential evidence that the parties might
present at trial.” Jacobsen, 287 F.3d at 941.
At this early stage of the proceedings, the Court cannot
resolve questions of fact concerning what caused the Uconnect
malfunctions and whether the warranty ...