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Roderick Wright v. General Motors Corporation

January 25, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jeffrey T. Miller United States District Judge


Plaintiff Roderick Wright ("Wright" or "Plaintiff") moves for summary judgment against Defendant Ally Financial Inc., formerly known as GMAC, erroneously sued as General Motors Acceptance Corporation ("Ally" or "GMAC"), on his claims for declaratory and injunctive relief under California's Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §17200 et seq. ("UCL"). GMAC separately moves for summary judgment. All motions are opposed. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(d)(1), this matter is appropriate for decision without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the court concludes that Plaintiff lacks standing under Proposition 64 to bring this action. Accordingly, the court grants summary judgment in favor of GMAC and against Plaintiff. The Clerk of Court is instructed to close the file.


On November 25, 2009 Ally removed this action from the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. §§1332(d)(1453(b). (Ct. Dkt No. 1). Ally, the successor in interest to GMAC, is in the business of purchasing and servicing retail installment sales contracts ("RISCs") for motor vehicles that it acquires from dealers in California." (Compl. ¶2).

On April 6, 2007 Plaintiff purchased a motor vehicle for personal use from a dealer in California. (Compl. ¶6). The sale was made pursuant to a RISC. About two years later, Plaintiff defaulted on the loan and, in July 2009, Ally repossessed the vehicle.

On July 17, 2009 Ally provided Plaintiff with a Notice of Intent ("NOI") informing him that it intended to sell the car. Plaintiff testified that he received this NOI after August 7, 2009. (Kemp Decl. Exh. C 55:16-569). The NOI also informed Plaintiff that he had the right to reinstate his contract by paying the delinquent charges and reasonable expenses or redeem the vehicle by paying the entire contract balance. (Kemp Decl. Exh. C). The car was sold at auction in October 2009 and the sale proceeds were applied to the balance of loan, resulting in a deficiency of $9,694.43. Subsequently, Ally sought to collect on the deficiency and reported the deficiency to the credit bureaus. Four days before commencing this lawsuit, Plaintiff made a $25 payment to Ally on the deficiency claim.*fn1

In broad brush, Plaintiff alleges that the NOI provided by Ally did not comply with the ReesLevering Automobile Sales Finance Act, Civil Code §§2981 et seq. Plaintiff alleges that the failure to comply with Rees-Levering results in the invalidity of Ally's deficiency claims. Plaintiff alleges that this conduct violates the UCL. Plaintiff seeks equitable relief, including the return of monies paid by him after the repossession of his vehicle ($25) and the cancellation of any potential deficiency claims.*fn2

The Alleged Defective NOI

Plaintiff identifies that the NOI was defective because the NOI did not disclose all costs required to reinstate the loan. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that the NOI failed to disclose (1) the amounts due after the date of the NOI (the NOI only stated that the amounts identified were due "as of the date of this letter*fn3 "); (2) the $75 redemption fee (charged by the auto auction or repossession agent for handling the paperwork and returning the vehicle to the customer); (3) a $23 inspection fee (the cost to have a third party vendor inspect the vehicle's condition); (4) a $15 statutory fee (the statutory fee must be paid to the police or sheriff's office where the repossession was reported); and (5) the NOI did not include a physical address. (Plaintiff's Motion at 5:14 - 8:4; Wright Decl. Exh B).


Legal Standards

A motion for summary judgment shall be granted where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P.

56(c); Prison Legal News v. Lehman, 397 F.3d 692, 698 (9th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the file which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). There is "no express or implied requirement in Rule 56 that the moving party support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim." Id. (emphasis in original). The opposing party cannot rest on the mere allegations or denials of a pleading, but must "go beyond the pleadings and by [the party's] own affidavits, or by the 'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324 (citation omitted). The opposing party also may not rely solely on conclusory allegations unsupported by factual data. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989).

The court must examine the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). Any doubt as to the existence of any issue of material fact requires denial of the motion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). On a motion for summary judgment, when "'the moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence were uncontroverted at trial.'" Houghton v. South, 965 F.2d 1532, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992) ...

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