United States District Court, E.D. California
sues a car dealership for allegedly misrepresenting the
condition of the car it sold him. Defendant Plaza Motors of
Brooklyn, Inc. (“Plaza”) now moves to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction. Mot., ECF No. 9. Plaintiff
Brandon Buelow (“Brandon”) opposes. Opp'n,
ECF No. 11. As provided by Local Rule 230(g), the court
submitted the matter without a hearing. Min. Order, ECF No.
15. For the reasons set forth below, the court now GRANTS
Plaza's motion to dismiss.
is a captain in the United States Air Force who was stationed
at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey until
sometime in late 2015. Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6, ECF No. 1.
Brandon received orders that he was being transferred to
Travis Air Force Base in California, so he and his wife
Angela Buelow (“Angela”) (collectively “the
Buelows”) decided to buy a new car “to help
facilitate their cross-country relocation.”
Id. ¶¶ 6-7.
is a car dealer in New York and its principal place of
business is in Brooklyn. Id. ¶ 5. The Buelows
saw an advertisement Plaza had placed on the website
www.autotrader.com, advertising the sale of a new
2016 Honda Pilot. Id. ¶¶ 8-9. Angela
telephoned Plaza to find out whether the car was still
available and to get more details about its condition.
Id. ¶¶ 11-12. On that call, Angela
informed Plaza's salesperson Richard Garcia
(“Garcia”) that the Buelows were relocating to
California and would be taking the car with them.
Id. ¶ 11. Also on that call, Garcia told Angela
the car was new but that it had been driven for roughly three
hundred miles because a prior prospective purchaser had
arranged for it to be transferred from Virginia to New York,
before the prospective purchaser ultimately selected a
vehicle with a different trim package. Id. ¶
12. Garcia told Angela that Plaza would sell the Buelows the
car for $41, 000, at a discount from the advertised price of
$43, 200, to match the price a dealership in New Jersey was
offering for a new Honda Pilot. Id. Satisfied with
the conversation, Angela arranged a credit card payment to
Plaza to hold the car until the next day when she and Brandon
could drive from their home in New Jersey to Plaza's
premises in New York to complete the purchase. Id.
next day, the Buelows visited Plaza's Brooklyn location
and met with Garcia to discuss the car. Id.
¶¶ 14-15. Garcia again told the Buelows that Plaza
would sell them the car for $41, 000. Id. ¶ 16.
Brandon noticed the car did not have a Monroney sticker
affixed. Id. ¶¶ 17-18. A Monroney sticker
is displayed in the window of all new cars and contains
information about the manufacturer's suggested retail
price, the car's specifications, fuel economy ratings,
and the like. Id. ¶ 17; see also 15
U.S.C. § 1232 (listing the information a Monroney
sticker must provide). When Brandon asked Garcia about the
missing sticker, Garcia told Brandon the “prior
dealership had removed the window sticker before the [car]
was driven up from Virginia, ” but that Garcia
“would send [Brandon] a copy of the . . .
sticker.” Compl. ¶¶ 18-19.
parties then began filling out paperwork to complete the
transaction. Plaza employees prepared several documents that
Brandon signed, including the following:
1. A document entitled “New York State Department of
Motor Vehicles - Retail Certificate of Sale, ” which
identified Brandon as the purchaser of the car, identified
“American Honda Motor, Torrance, CA” as the prior
owner, and identified the type of sale as
“Retail” and “New.” Id.
¶ 21. American Honda Motor (“American
Honda”) is a California-based subsidiary of Honda Motor
Co., Ltd. and distributes all Honda-branded cars in the
United States. Schlanger Decl. ¶¶ 4, 6, ECF No.
2. A document entitled “Application of Certificate of
Ownership, ” a New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
form, indicating that Brandon owned the car and American
Honda Finance was the lienholder. Compl. ¶ 22. American
Honda Finance (“Honda Finance”) is a
California-based Honda entity that offers financial services
and retail loans on Honda-branded products. Schlanger Decl.
3. A document entitled “New Vehicle Invoice, ”
which stated that the car was “NEW, ” that Plaza
sold it to Brandon, and that Honda Finance was the
lienholder. Compl. ¶ 23.
4. A document entitled “Motor Vehicle (Automobile) -
Simple Interest - Retail Installment Contract - Consumer
Credit Document New York, ” which indicated the car was
“NEW.” Id. ¶ 27.
also signed a limited power of attorney authorizing specified
Plaza employees to “sign and execute any documents
necessary to process” the transfer of title,
registration and procurement of license plates for the car.
Id. ¶ 28. Finally, Garcia helped the Buelows
connect their Bluetooth devices to the car. Id.
¶ 30. During that process, the Buelows noticed other
Bluetooth devices had previously been paired with the car and
they asked Garcia for an explanation. Id. ¶ 31.
Garcia replied: “the guy who drove the car up from
Virginia wanted to listen to his own music.”
to the Buelows, the car Plaza sold them was not actually new.
It had been owned previously by a man named Alonzo Nimmons
(“Nimmons”). Id. ¶¶ 35-36.
Nimmons bought the car from Plaza about a month before the
Buelows did. Id. ¶ 37. A week after Nimmons
purchased the car, he dropped it off with Plaza so Plaza
could repair a “minor issue.” Id. ¶
38. When Nimmons returned to pick up the car, the front
passenger side of the car had been “crushed in.”
Id. ¶ 39. Nimmons demanded and eventually
received a replacement car from Plaza. Id. ¶
40. Plaza never told the Buelows the car had been previously
owned or that it had been damaged. Id. ¶ 41. In
fact, Plaza “made false assertions to the contrary in
an attempt to conceal the true facts.” Id. The
Buelows only learned about the car's history after an
irregularity with the car's satellite radio subscription
motivated them to investigate. Id. ¶¶
32-35. The Buelows are now aware that the car “is not,
in fact, a pristine, low-mileage, single-owner vehicle, but
rather a used car with multiple owners, undisclosed
accidents, and uncertain provenance.” Id.
October 31, 2016, Brandon filed a complaint against Plaza in
this court. He asserts the following claims: (1) violation of
California's Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, Compl.
¶¶ 48-60; (2) violation of the federal
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act for Breach of Express Written
Warranty, id. ¶¶ 61-69; (3) violation of
the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act for Breach of
“Implied Written Warranty, ” id.
¶¶ 70-88; (4) ...