United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MATTHEW PRESCOTT, DDS, GINA TAMBORNINI, DDS, and ROY JOSEPH, DMD, Plaintiffs,
ARGEN CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MANISH S. SHAH, District Judge.
Plaintiffs are dentists and dental professionals who believe dental crowns they purchased were not as advertised. Instead of being durable, plaintiffs allege the crowns fractured in a matter of months. Seeking to represent a class of similarly situated professionals, plaintiffs have filed suit against the two companies alleged to have made the crowns. The dentists claim these companies knowingly misrepresented the nature of their product, and that such misrepresentations amounted to both common-law fraud and a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
The defendant manufacturers now move under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss plaintiffs' second amended complaint. For the following reasons, both motions are granted and Counts II and III are dismissed with prejudice.
I. Legal Standard
"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted." Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation omitted). Under the federal notice pleading standards, a plaintiff's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Put differently, a "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, [the court] accept[s] the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true...." Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013).
The Captek Nano dental crown was introduced in 2007.  ¶ 20. This redesigned Captek crown differed from its predecessors in that it contained less gold - a potentially significant development given the commodity's increasing price at the time. Id. ¶¶ 20, 22. The new design was flawed, however, because the Nano was "incapable over time of withstanding the ordinary everyday forces of human chewing...." Id. ¶ 20. Under the new design, "the metal and porcelain fail[ed] to sufficiently bind together, causing a failure at the junction of the two materials, and causing the porcelain generally to fracture." Id. ¶ 21.
Plaintiffs Matthew Prescott, Gina Tambornini, and Roy Joseph were dentists and dental professionals who purchased the Nano crown for ultimate seating into the mouths of their patients. Id. ¶ 1. As a result of the crown's defects, "patients of Plaintiffs... experienced great pain and suffering and were required to undergo additional oral surgeries...." Id. ¶ 43. More relevant to this action, plaintiffs "were required to extract the defective crowns, order new crowns and seat the new crowns, which required their additional time, valued at their average dental rate, their out-of-pocket expense for [the] purchase of new crowns, and additional lab and technician costs." Id. ¶ 45.
Defendant Precious Chemicals USA, Inc. designed, manufactured, sold, distributed, advertised and marketed the Nano crown beginning in 2007. Id. ¶ 8. Defendant Argen Corporation did the same, but starting in January 2011. Id. ¶ 9. From 2007 through at least January 2011, Precious Chemicals "used numerous methods of advertising the Nano crown... including... posting information and specific statements on their website at www.captek.com/Concept/Technology/About, as well as through printed brochures, leaflets, fliers, pamphlets and similar advertising materials." Id. ¶ 27. Since 2007, Precious Chemicals had been aware of the defective and structurally unsound nature of the Nano crown, but continued to manufacture, market, and sell it. Id. ¶¶ 23, 25.
Starting in January 2011, Argen "used numerous methods of advertising the Captek Nano... including... posting information and specific statements on... www.argen.com (under the sub-heading Captek Technology') and www.captek.com/Concept/Technology/About, as well as through printed brochures, leaflets, fliers, pamphlets and similar advertising materials." Id. ¶ 29. Since January 2011, Argen had been aware of the defective and structurally unsound nature of the Nano crown, but continued to manufacture, market, and sell it. Id. ¶¶ 24-25.
Rather than reveal the true defective nature of the Nano crown, the Captek and Argen websites falsely represented that: (1) "the Captek Nano technology enable[d] the creation of long-lasting crowns'"; (2) "the Captek Nano d[id] not change over time [and that] [t]here [would] never be any corrosion and [it would] not deteriorate over time... the optical esthetics of the final crown [would] last for many years'"; (3) "the Captek Nano's advanced technology combine[d] all the advantages of high-purity gold, without sacrificing the strength'"; and (4) "years of research and patient satisfaction ha[d] proven that Captek crowns [were] durable, accurate, attractive high-purity gold, without sacrificing the strength.'" Id. ¶ 70.
"In mid-2008, [plaintiff Joseph] view[ed] and read the information, statements and representations posted on the Captek website... which he relied upon in purchasing Captek Nano Crowns for his patients starting in September, 2008." Id. ¶ 31. The complaint does not allege any particular instance in which plaintiffs Prescott or Tambornini viewed either website. Instead, Prescott and Tambornini claim they relied on conversations they had with defendant Premium Dental Lab,  in which Premium misrepresented the quality of the Nano crowns. Id. ¶¶ 32-42.
In their second amended class action complaint, plaintiffs allege claims for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability (Count I), fraudulent misrepresentation (Count II), and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (Count III). Id. at 12-19. Plaintiffs bring Count I against Premium Dental alone, and Counts II and III against both Precious Chemicals and Argen. Id. ...