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Southern Furniture Leasing, Inc. v. YRC, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 31, 2019

SOUTHERN FURNITURE LEASING, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
YRC, INC., YRC WORLDWIDE INC., ROADWAY EXPRESS, INC. and YELLOW TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          KATHRYN H. VRATIL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On June 21, 2019, Southern Furniture Leasing, Inc., on behalf of itself and others similarly situated, filed suit against YRC, Inc., YRC Worldwide Inc., Roadway Express, Inc. and Yellow Transportation, Inc. First Amended Class Action Complaint (Doc. #10). Plaintiff alleges that defendants systematically overcharged customers for shipments, and bring claims for breach of contract (Count 1), breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing (Count 2), unjust enrichment (Count 3) and violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Fla. Stat. § 501.201 (Count 4). This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion To Dismiss Amended Complaint (Doc. #12) filed July 2, 2019. For reasons stated below, the Court sustains defendants' motion.

         Factual Background

         Highly summarized, plaintiff's complaint alleges the following:

         Plaintiff is a business that rents furniture to various individuals and other businesses. Plaintiff entered into a contract with defendants whereby defendants would ship its goods pursuant to a standard bill of lading. This form agreement requires customers to provide certain information, including the weight of the shipment. The weight of the shipment primarily drives the price that defendants charge for a given shipment. The agreement provides that the weight will be subject to correction and that the shipping charges will ultimately reflect the actual weight of the goods that defendants ship. Accordingly, for many years, defendants would reweigh shipments and correct the weight in their billing system to accurately reflect the actual weight of a given shipment. Where the actual weight of a shipment was greater than initially indicated (“positive reweighs”), the price that the customer owed increased. Where the actual weight of a shipment was less than initially indicated (“negative reweighs”), the price decreased. By 2006, however, defendants instituted a practice whereby it systematically and deliberately eliminated any negative reweighs from registering in its customer billing system. As a result, defendants overcharged their customers, who were unaware of this practice.

         Plaintiff brings claims for breach of contract (Count 1), breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing (Count 2), unjust enrichment (Count 3) and violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (Count 4). Plaintiff seeks to recover on its own behalf and on behalf of two putative classes. The first putative class consists of “[a]ll persons or entities who reside in the United States who, from March 1, 2006 through the date of class certification, entered into a standard contract with [defendants] and whose charges were not credited for a negative reweigh.” First Amended Class Action Complaint (Doc. #10) ¶ 18. The second putative class consists of “[a]ll persons or entities who reside in Florida who, from March 1, 2006 through the date of class certification, entered into a standard contract with [defendants] and whose charges were not credited for a negative reweigh.” Id. ¶ 19.

         Legal Standards

         Defendants assert that the Court should dismiss plaintiff's claims under Fed. R. Civ P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) because (1) the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction and (2) plaintiff's amended complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[1]

         When defendants seek dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) in the alternative, the Court must first decide the motion under Rule 12(b)(1) because the latter challenge would be moot if the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See Creamer v. Gildemeister, No. 15-4871-KHV, 2015 WL 6828186, at *2 (D. Kan. Nov. 6, 2015). Dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) is appropriate when the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a claim for relief. The party asserting jurisdiction has the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. Id. (citing Port City Props. v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 518 F.3d 1186, 1189 (10th Cir. 2008)).

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), 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 - and not merely conceivable - on its face. Id. at 679-80; Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To determine 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. Plaintiff makes a facially plausible claim when it pleads factual content from which the Court can reasonably infer that defendants are liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. at 678. However, plaintiff must show more than a sheer possibility that defendants have acted unlawfully - it is not enough to plead facts that are “merely consistent with” defendants' liability. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the Court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but has not “shown” - that the pleader is entitled to relief. Id. at 679. The degree of specificity necessary to establish plausibility and fair notice depends on context; what constitutes fair notice under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) depends on the type of case. Robbins v. Okla., 519 F.3d 1242, 1248 (10th Cir. 2008).

         The Court need not accept as true those allegations which state only legal conclusions. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Rather, plaintiff bears the burden of framing its complaint with enough factual matter to suggest that it is entitled to relief; it is not enough to make threadbare recitals of a cause of action accompanied by conclusory statements. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. A pleading that 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.

         Analysis

         I. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Defendants assert that the Court should dismiss plaintiff's claims under Rule 12(b)(1) because the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction. Generally, a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction takes one of two forms: a facial attack or a factual attack. Hall v. United States, No. 12-1387-KHV, 2013 WL 4047578, at *1 (D. Kan. Aug. 9, 2013). In a facial attack, a party questions the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations as to subject matter jurisdiction. Id. (citing Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1002 (10th Cir. 1995)). In a factual attack, by contrast, a party may go beyond allegations in the complaint and challenge the facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction depends. Id. (citing Holt, 46 F.3d at 1002).

         Here, defendants facially attack the complaint by asserting that plaintiff's allegations fail to establish subject matter jurisdiction. Defendants' Motion To Dismiss Amended Complaint (Doc. #12) at 11-12. Specifically, defendants assert that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because (1) plaintiff does not have Article III standing[2] and (2) plaintiff did not adequately plead the required amount in controversy under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”).[3]

         A. ...


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