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Yetter v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

July 19, 2019

WAYNE W. YETTER, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Wayne Yetter (“Plaintiff”) brings suit against Defendant Ford Motor Company (“Defendant”) for claims arising from Plaintiff's purchase of a vehicle manufactured by Defendant. Before the Court is Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. Having considered the parties' submissions, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings with leave to amend.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff resides in Salinas, California. ECF No. 1-3 (“Compl.”), ¶ 2. Defendant Ford is a vehicle manufacturer incorporated in Delaware. Id. ¶ 3. On June 30, 2008, Plaintiff purchased a new 2008 Ford Super Duty F-350 truck from Salinas Valley Ford, an authorized dealer of Defendant's vehicles. Id. ¶¶ 9, 56. Plaintiff paid $56, 673 for the vehicle. Compl., Ex. 1.

         Plaintiff alleges that the vehicle that Defendant manufactured and that Plaintiff purchased contains a defective engine. Id. ¶¶ 10, 13. Navistar supplied a 6.4 liter engine for Ford's Super Duty trucks for model year 2008 to 2010. Id. ¶ 15. Ford claimed that the 6.4 liter engine “had ‘been tested the equivalent of 10 million miles on road and in the lab, helping ensure excellent long-term durability.'” Id. Plaintiff alleges that in reality, the 6.4 liter engine “is plagued by numerous problems and safety concerns.” Id. ¶ 17. For example, the engine loses power while in operation and is subject to overheating. Id. ¶ 19. Other defects “result[] in premature engine failure and require[] expensive repairs, including premature engine replacement.” Id. ¶ 20.

         Plaintiff alleges that Ford alerted automotive technicians about “several defects common to the 6.4L Engine.” Id. ¶ 29. Ford also issued two different recall notices in March 26, 2007 for Super Duty trucks for other defects not related to the engine, including an “excessive temperature defect” and a “wiring defect.” Id. ¶ 30. However, Ford has never developed a plan to identify and eliminate “the root cause of defects to the 6.4L Engines, ” nor has Ford implemented a recall of the engines. Id. ¶ 46. Instead, Ford instructed its dealers to undertake repairs that “misled customers to believe that the underlying problem had been fixed, when in fact the symptom likely would reoccur on a later date.” Id. ¶ 47.

         Plaintiff read promotional materials and viewed Ford advertisements that represented that the Super Duty F-350 had “best-in-class towing power and engine reliability.” Id. ¶¶ 53-54. Before Plaintiff purchased the vehicle on June 30, 2008, a salesperson at Salinas Valley Ford “verbally represented to Plaintiff that the Super Duty F-350 was better and improved over prior Ford models, and specifically, that the new 6.4L Engine was a newly designed higher performing and better engine [sic] than the previous 6.0 Liter PowerStroke Engine.” Id.

         Plaintiff delivered the vehicle to “an authorized Ford repair facility” for various repairs on multiple occasions, including on January 15, 2009; July 9, 2009; March 4, 2010; December 7, 2010; January 5, 2011; October 3, 2011; April 30, 2012; October 27, 2012; and January 25, 2016. Id. ¶¶ 59-67. On each occasion, the technician at the repair facility informed Plaintiff “that the Vehicle had been repaired and was safe to drive.” Id.

         Several of Plaintiff's repairs concerned the engine. On December 7, 2010, Plaintiff complained “that the check engine and wrench light were on and that the vehicle lacked power.” Id. ¶ 62. Again, on October 3, 2011, “Plaintiff complained that the check engine light was on” and “that the engine had an exhause [sic] leak.” Id. ¶ 64. On October 27, 2012, “Plaintiff complained that the vehicle displayed the message ‘reduced engine power.'” Id. ¶ 66.

         B. Procedural History

         On January 17, 2019, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant in California Superior Court for the County of Monterey. ECF No. 1-3 (“Compl.”). Plaintiff's complaint alleges five causes of action: (1) breach of express warranty under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (“Song-Beverly Act”), id. ¶¶ 83-97; (2) breach of implied warranty under the Song-Beverly Act, id. ¶¶ 98-108; (3) fraudulent concealment, id. ¶¶ 109-119; (4) fraudulent inducement - intentional misrepresentation, id. ¶¶ 120-129; and (5) fraudulent inducement - negligent misrepresentation, id. ¶¶ 130-145. Plaintiff also alleges that “all statute of limitations periods are tolled by the discovery rule and the doctrine of fraudulent concealment.” Id. ¶ 69.

         On January 31, 2019, in state court, Defendant filed an answer to Plaintiff's complaint. ECF No. 1-3, Ex. B. On February 19, 2019, Defendant removed the case to federal court. ECF No. 1.

         On March 14, 2019, Defendant filed the instant motion for judgment on the pleadings. ECF No. 12 (“Mot.”). On March 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed his opposition, ECF No. 14 (“Opp.”), and on April 3, 2019, Defendant filed its reply. ECF No. 15 (“Reply”).


         A. Rule 12(c) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         “After the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “Judgment on the pleadings is properly granted when, accepting all factual allegations in the complaint as true, there is no issue of material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Chavez v. United States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2012) (brackets and internal quotation marks omitted). Like a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion under Rule 12(c) challenges the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. See Id. Indeed, a Rule 12(c) motion is “functionally identical” to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, and courts apply the “same standard.” Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 1989) (explaining that the “principal difference” between Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(c) “is the timing of filing”); see also U.S. ex rel. Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011).

         Judgment on the pleadings should thus be entered when a complaint does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). For purposes of ruling on a Rule 12(c) motion, the Court “accept[s] factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe[s] the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008).

         B. ...

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