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Lantz v. American Honda Motor Co.

January 17, 2008

RON LANTZ, DENNIS GRIBBINS, RICHARD ALLEN AND CLARENCE ALVORD, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR COMPANY, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nan R. Nolan United States Magistrate Judge

Judge Nan R. Nolan

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Ron Lantz, Dennis Gribbins, Richard Allen, and Clarence Alvord, together with intervening Plaintiffs Clifford Harrelson, Lon Hebert, John Tilly, DeWayne Rector, Henry Seppi and Kevin Garthe, are pursuing a class action complaint against Defendant American Honda Motor Company, Inc. ("Honda"), alleging a variety of state law claims arising from Honda's deceptive and unlawful conduct in designing, manufacturing, marketing, distributing, selling, servicing and/or failing to service, GL1800 Gold Wing Motorcycles.*fn1 In the original complaint, Plaintiffs Lantz, Gribbins, Allen, and Alvord sought to recover under a variety of California state laws, including the California Business and Professions Code, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq. (Count I) and §§ 17500 et seq. (Count II); the California Civil Code, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750 et seq. (Count III); the California Commercial Code, Cal. Comm. Code §§ 2313 and 2314 (Counts IV and V); and California's common law of unjust enrichment. Plaintiffs also alleged four alternative counts asserting violations of the laws of the District of Columbia and every state except California. Specifically, Alternate Count I alleged violation of state consumer protection laws; Alternate Counts II and III alleged breach of state express and implied warranties, respectively; and Alternate Count IV alleged claims for common law unjust enrichment.

On May 14, 2007, the court dismissed all of the California state law counts on conflicts grounds. Lantz v. American Honda Motor Co., No. 06 C 5932, 2007 WL 1424614, at *4-5 (N.D. Ill. May 14, 2007). The court also held that Plaintiffs Lantz, Gribbins, Allen, and Alvord could only assert claims under the laws of Illinois and Florida, the two states in which they all reside. Id. at *6. In a subsequent opinion, the court clarified that this finding was not intended as an anticipatory bar or limitation on class certification or representation. Lantz v. American Honda Motor Co., No. 06 C 5932, 2007 WL 2875239, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 27, 2007). Rather, Plaintiffs did not have standing to sue for damages they themselves purportedly suffered under the laws of states in which they do not reside, as alleged in the complaint.

The court next (1) dismissed Plaintiffs' claims under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq., and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Fl. Stat. §§ 501.201 et seq., for failure to plead fraud with particularity; (2) found Mr. Gribbins' breach of express and implied warranty claims untimely; and (3) dismissed the remaining breach of implied warranty claims for lack of privity between Plaintiffs and Honda. Lantz, 2007 WL 1424614, at *8-11. Finally, the court dismissed Plaintiffs' unjust enrichment claims because Mr. Gribbins had an adequate remedy at law, and Mr. Lantz, Mr. Allen, and Mr. Alvord failed to allege that they lacked an express warranty precluding such claims. Id. at *12.

On November 20, 2007, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Class Action Complaint adding Clifford Harrelson, Lon Hebert, John Tilly, DeWayne Rector, Henry Seppi and Kevin Garthe as named Plaintiffs, and reasserting Counts I through V to preserve those claims for appeal. Plaintiffs also seek to create four alternative classes of Gold Wing purchasers. The first is a nationwide class that is subject to either California law or the laws of all other states ("Class I"). (AC ¶ 73(a).) The second class ("Class II") includes all persons who purchased GL1800 motorcycles in states that do not require privity of contract in order to recover for breach of implied warranty. (Id. ¶ 73(b).) Class III is comprised of all Gold Wing GL1800 purchasers who live in the states where Plaintiffs reside: Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, and Texas. (Id. ¶ 73(c).) The fourth class includes only Mr. Hebert, Mr. Tilly, Mr. Rector, and Mr. Seppi, on behalf of Gold Wing GL1800 purchasers who live in their states of residence (i.e., Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, and Texas). (Id. ¶ 73(d).)

Alternative Count I is asserted on behalf of Class I, and alleges breach of express warranty under the laws of the District of Columbia and all states except California. Alternative Count II, asserted on behalf of Class II, alleges breach of state implied warranties in all states not requiring privity of contract.*fn2 Alternative Count III is asserted on behalf of Class III, and alleges breach of state express warranties in the states where Plaintiffs and Intervenors reside. Alternative Count IV, asserted on behalf of Class IV, alleges breach of state implied warranties on behalf of purchasers who reside in Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, and Texas.

Honda once again moves to dismiss several of Plaintiffs' claims. For the reasons set forth here, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

DISCUSSION*fn3

The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of plaintiffs' complaint, not to decide its merits. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). A motion to dismiss will be granted only "if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which entitles him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).

In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court accepts as true all factual allegations in the plaintiffs' complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in their favor. Franzoni v. Hartmarx Corp., 300 F.3d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2002).

Honda moves to dismiss Counts I through V of the amended complaint as improper and unnecessary pleadings. Honda also argues that Plaintiffs cannot assert claims under the laws of any states in which they do not reside, and that Mr. Gribbins' express and implied warranty claims remain time-barred. The court addresses each argument in turn.

A. Counts I-V

In its May 14, 2007 opinion, the court dismissed the claims asserted under California law (Counts I through V) on conflicts grounds. Specifically, the court noted that "Plaintiffs purchased and used their Gold Wing motorcycles in Florida and Illinois, the states in which they reside"; "[a]ny alleged fraud made in connection with the purchases occurred at the points of purchase in those two states"; "Plaintiffs received and acted on the representations in Florida and Illinois, and that is where the parties' relationships are centered"; and "Plaintiffs negotiated and contracted to buy the motorcycles in Florida and Illinois, and that is where delivery occurred and where the motorcycles are located." Lantz, 2007 WL 1424614, at *4-5. Six additional Plaintiffs have now intervened in this case, but none of them ...


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