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.

Marshall v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 7, 2017

BEVERLY J. MARSHALL, Plaintiff
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, a Delaware corporation; DECKER FORD, INC., dba Future Ford of Clovis, a California corporation; and DOES 1-30, inclusive, Defendants

          ORDER RE: MOTION TO STRIKE

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Beverly J. Marshall (“Plaintiff”) purchased a 2012 Ford Focus previously used as a rental car (“Vehicle”) from Defendant Decker Ford (“Decker”) on April 19, 2014. The fact that the Vehicle had been a rental car was not initially disclosed. Decker informed Plaintiff that the Vehicle had an automatic transmission. The transmission used was a Dual Power Shift 6 Speed Transmission which is not the same as a more traditional hydraulic automatic transmission. Defendant Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) had certified the Vehicle as being in good condition and provided certain warranties on it. On May 19, 2014, Plaintiff sent the Vehicle to Ford for repairs due to issues with the transmission. Ford serviced the Vehicle and returned it to Plaintiff. On October 23, 2014, Plaintiff again sent the Vehicle to Ford for repairs due to issues with the transmission. Ford again serviced the Vehicle and returned it to Plaintiff. In January 2015, Plaintiff requested that Ford repurchase the Vehicle; Ford refused to do so.

         Plaintiff has filed suit, alleging four causes of action based on consumer protection laws:

         (1) violation of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (“Song-Beverly”) (2) violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“Magnuson-Moss”), (3) violation of Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq (also knows as the Unfair Competition law, “UCL”), and (4) violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”). Doc. 2, Complaint. Plaintiff asks for punitive damages against Ford. Doc. 2, Complaint, 17:15-16.

         Decker has filed an answer. Doc. 17. Ford has filed a motion to strike, seeking to eliminate the request for punitive damages. Doc. 12. Plaintiff has not filed any opposition to the motion.

         II. Legal Standards

         “The court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 12(f). The Ninth Circuit has stated that “Rule 12(f) does not authorize district courts to strike claims for damages on the ground that such claims are precluded as a matter of law.” Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 974-75 (9th Cir. 2010). Rule 12(f) may not be used to strike a request for punitive damages. See, e.g. Estate of Prasad ex rel. Prasad v. County of Sutter, 958 F.Supp.2d 1101, 1128 (E.D. Cal. 2013), Bakersfield Pipe & Supply, Inc. v. Cornerstone Valve, LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96331, *5 (E.D. Cal. July 23, 2015). The proper vehicle for challenging the sufficiency of a punitive damages claim is a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), and not a motion to strike under Rule 12(f). “[W]here a motion is in substance a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, but is incorrectly denominated as a Rule 12(f) motion, a court may convert the improperly designated Rule 12(f) motion into a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.” Consumer Solutions Reo, LLC v. Hillery, 658 F.Supp.2d 1002, 1020-21 (N.D. Cal. 2009). The motion will be considered as though it were brought as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         A claim may be dismissed because of the plaintiff's “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6). A dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or on the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Conservation Force v. Salazar, 646 F.3d 1240, 1242 (9th Cir. 2011); Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008).

         III. Discussion

         Ford asserts that the first three causes of action do not allow for punitive damages, while Plaintiff's CLRA claim does not include such a request. Doc. 12-1, Brief, 2:24-26. Plaintiff only mentions her request for punitive damages at the end of her complaint, in the section entitled “Prayer For Relief”; she does not make clear which cause or causes of action the request is related to. See Doc. 2, Complaint.

         The first cause of action is Song-Beverly. California law permits the recovery of actual damages plus a civil penalty of up to two times those actual damages if the Song-Beverly violations are willful or if a manufacturer breaches an express warranty by refusing to make restitution after reasonable repair attempts fail. Cal. Civ. Code § 1794(c) and (e). Plaintiff has requested this trebling of damages. Doc. 2, Complaint, 11:13-15. This civil penalty is distinct from punitive damages under California law; in fact, a plaintiff may not recover both forms of relief for the same conduct. Troensegaard v. Silvercrest Indus., 175 Cal.App.3d 218, 228 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. 1985) (“by seeking a ‘civil penalty' and also attorney's fees and all reasonable expenses as allowed by Civil Code section 1794, plaintiff had in effect elected to waive punitive damages under section 3294”); Gibson v. Chrysler Corp., 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11343, *8 (N.D. Cal. July 20, 1998); Shore v. Gurnett, 122 Cal.App.4th 166, 174 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. 2004). Song-Beverly is not a proper basis for Plaintiff's request for punitive damages.

         The second cause of action is Magnuson-Moss, a federal law. “The Magnuson-Moss Act provides a federal cause of action for state law express and implied warranty claims. However, [the Magnuson-Moss Act] does not expand the rights under those claims, and dismissal of the state law claims requires the same disposition with respect to an associated MMWA claim.” In re Sony Grand WEGA KDF-E A10/A20 Series Rear Projection HDTV TV Litig., 758 F.Supp.2d 1077, 1101 (S.D. Cal. 2010), citations omitted. Magnuson-Moss does not provide an independent basis for grant of punitive damages. See Kelly v. Fleetwood Enters., 377 F.3d 1034, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). Magnuson-Moss is not a proper basis for Plaintiff's request for punitive damages.

         The third cause of action is UCL. “It is settled law that punitive damages are not available under § 17200.” Flo & Eddie v. Sirius Xm Radio, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185233, *5 n.1 (C.D. Cal. Sep. 8, 2016), citing Korea Supply Co. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 29 Cal.4th 1134, 1148 (2003). UCL is not a proper basis for Plaintiff's request for punitive damages.

         The fourth cause of action is CLRA. This California law does allow for punitive damages. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants' various misrepresentations violated Cal. Civ. Code § 1770(a)(2), (3), (5), (7), (9), (14), and (16). Doc. 2, Complaint, 15:17-27. As a remedy for CLRA violations, Cal Civ. Code § 1780(a)(1) provides for actual monetary damages while Section 1780(a)(2), (3), (4), and (5) provide for injunctions, restitution, punitive damages, and other relief respectively. Cal. Civ. Code § 1780(a). Plaintiff states specifically that she is “not currently seeking damages under Civil Code § 1780(a)(1)” but rather is seeking an injunction, restitution, rescission, and ...


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.