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Munning v. The Gap, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 1, 2017

THE GAP, INC., et al., Defendants.


          THELTON E. HENDERSON United States District Judge.

         This matter came before the Court on May 18, 2017 for a hearing on Plaintiff Munning's motion for clarification (ECF No. 60) (“Mot.”). Specifically, Plaintiff seeks “an order clarifying that the Court's ruling on February 24, 2017 does not prevent Plaintiff from continuing to seek injunctive relief as part of her claim under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.” Mot. at 1:1-4. Defendants timely opposed the motion (ECF No. 63) (“Opp'n”), and Plaintiff timely replied (ECF No. 64) (“Reply”). After carefully considering the parties' written and oral arguments, the Court hereby DENIES Plaintiffs' motion for clarification.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As the parties are familiar with the factual background of this case, the Court provides only a brief summary of the facts.

         Defendants are for-profit entities that sell apparel and other personal items in retail stores and online. ECF No. 41 (“FAC”) ¶¶ 11-21. In March 2016, Plaintiff purchased three clothing items from the Defendants' websites: one pair of swim trunks from the Gap Factory retail website, and one dress and one sweater from the Banana Republic Factory website.[1] Id. ¶¶ 47-52. Each of these items was advertised as being on sale.[2] Id. For example, the price of the swim trunks appeared as follows:

$24.99 32% off
Now $16.99

Id. ¶ 48. Plaintiff alleges the prices she paid for the three products remained unchanged for the entire week following her purchase. Id. ¶ 55. One month after her purchase, the price of the swim trunks slightly increased to $17.99, while the price of the dress still remained unchanged.[3] Id. ¶ 56. Consequently, the Plaintiff alleged “upon information and belief” that the three items she purchased “were never sold or offered for sale at the non-discounted, base prices listed on Defendants' websites . . . . Rather, the items were always sold and offered for sale at a price at or near the purported ‘sale' price that Plaintiff paid.” Id. ¶ 57. Moreover, Plaintiff alleges these actions were part of a “uniform policy” and “systematic scheme” which Defendants knowingly implemented to defraud purchasers. Id. ¶ 62.

         Plaintiff brought this putative class action against Defendants challenging the Defendants' advertising, marketing, and sales practices on the online Gap Factory and Banana Republic Factory store websites. Plaintiff initially brought eleven claims for relief against the Defendants: (1) Violations of State Consumer Protection Statutes; (2) Violation of the California Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”); (3) Violation of the California Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”); (4) Violation of California's False Advertising Law (“FAL”); (5) Violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (“NJCFA”); (6) Violation of the New Jersey Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act (“TCCWNA”); (7) Breach of Contract; (8) Breach of Contract under Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; (9) Breach of Express Warranty; (10) Unjust Enrichment; and (11) Negligent Misrepresentation. Id. at 15-31.

         Ruling on the Defendants' first motion to dismiss, this Court dismissed claims 1, 8, 10, and 11 with prejudice. ECF No. 29. In the same Order, the Court also dismissed claims 2, 5, 6, and claims for restitution and injunctive relief without prejudice. Id. Plaintiff amended her complaint, see ECF No. 41, and Defendants filed a second motion to dismiss, see ECF No. 44, seeking to dismiss claims 2, 5, 6, and Plaintiff's claims for restitution and injunctive relief.[4] In ruling on Defendants' second motion to dismiss, the Court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss claims 2, 5, and 6, but the Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims for equitable relief, which included Plaintiff's UCL and FAL claims.[5] ECF No. 56 (“Order”) at 10. More specifically, the Court found Plaintiff had sufficiently pled a violation of the NJCFA, but the Court also dismissed plaintiff's claims for equitable relief based on the recognized principle in this district that a plaintiff seeking equitable relief must establish that there is no adequate remedy at law available. Order at 4-5, 9-10.

         During a recent Case Management Conference, the parties raised the current dispute: whether the Court's prior February 24, 2017 Order dismissed Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief under the NJCFA. The Court instructed the parties to submit briefing on the matter.


         1. Plaintiff's Motion is Procedurally Proper

         As an initial matter, the Court shall address Defendants' procedural arguments. Defendants oppose Plaintiff's motion as an improper motion for reconsideration. See Opp'n at 3-4. However, as mentioned above, during the parties' case management conference on March 20, 2017, the Court expressly instructed the Plaintiff to ...

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