United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JAMES A. BEATY, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Recommendation of the U.S. Magistrate Judge [Doc. #34] in the consolidated cases of 1:12-cv-477 (Yancey, lead case), 1:12-cv-437 (Henderson, member case) and 1:10-cv-918 (Maxwell, member case) that Plaintiffs' Complaints be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted. The Recommendation was filed on September 30, 2013, and notice was served on the parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). On October 17, 2013, Plaintiff Ronnie Maxwell filed Objections [Docs. #36, #37]. Plaintiffs William S. Yancey and David C. Henderson filed stipulations of dismissal thus terminating their respective cases, therefore, only the case of Maxwell v. Remington Arms Company, LLC, case number 1:10-cv-918, remains before the Court.
Upon a de novo review of Plaintiff Ronnie Maxwell's Objections and relevant portions of the Recommendation, the Court finds that the Objections do not change the substance of the Magistrate Judge's ruling. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will affirm and adopt the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation as to the case of Plaintiff Ronnie Maxwell ("Plaintiff"). In doing so, the Court will also deny as moot Plaintiff's pending Motion for Extension of Time to file Class Certification [Doc. #22].
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On November 29, 2010, Plaintiff Ronnie Maxwell, a citizen of Texas, filed a Complaint [Doc. #1] against Defendant Remington Arms Company, LLC ("Defendant") in the Middle District of North Carolina. On December 3, 2010, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint [Doc. #8]. Plaintiff brought the case as a class action and asserted claims of breach of warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, unjust enrichment, and unfair and deceptive conduct under the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Plaintiff's claims stem from his purchase of two of Defendant's model number 597 17 HMR semi-automatic rifles (the "597 17 HMR"). Plaintiff alleged that he purchased the two firearms, but he did not specify when, where, or from whom he made the purchases, or how much he paid for each 597 17 HMR. Plaintiff listed several advertising statements attributed to Defendant without any further context and without stating that Plaintiff received or encountered such statements prior to his purchases. Next, Plaintiff alleged "Remington's representations concerning the Remington Model 597 17 HMR rifles and ammunition were false, misleading and deceptive." (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff alleged that Defendant recalled all 597 17 HMRs "[d]ue to safety and performance concerns, " and that Defendant directed owners to immediately cease using any 597 17 HMR and corresponding ammunition. (Id. at 4) Plaintiff concluded his factual allegations by asserting that due to this recall, he could not use or sell his two 597 17 HMRs, and thus the rifles are now worthless.
Under his claim for breach of express warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act ("MMWA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301-2312, Plaintiff alleged that "[w]ith respect to all Remington 597 17 HMR rifles sold, Remington made a written limited warranty as defined by 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301 (6) and 2303(a)." (Pl.'s Am. Compl.[Doc. #8], at 6.) Plaintiff, however, did not provide any details as to the alleged contents of this warranty or as to Plaintiff's specific knowledge of the warranty before purchasing the firearms. Plaintiff further alleged that "Remington made known its breach of the limited warranty on or about August 2009 when it issued a recall of all Remington 597 17 HMR rifles." (Id.) Plaintiff further asserted that Defendant failed to "remedy the warranty" under the MMWA. (Id.) As a result, Plaintiff sought actual damages for the purchase prices of the 597 17 HMRs.
In Plaintiff's second claim for unjust enrichment, he made general allegations that "Plaintiff and the Class paid for their rifles purchases in cash or its equivalent, " and that "allow[ing] Remington to keep the cash or its equivalent... would unjustly enrich Remington at the expense of the innocent Plaintiff and Class." (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff's third and final claim filed pursuant to the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act ("UDTPA") alleged that "Defendant represented that the Model 597 17 HMR rifles and ammunition would be free from defects and fit for their intended purpose, under normal conditions of use, wear, and exposure." (Id.) Plaintiff asserted that Defendant knew or should have known that the 597 17 HMR and ammunition "did not or would not conform to Defendant's representations and promises" in its marketing materials. (Id.) Plaintiff alleged that Defendant intended for consumers to rely on these representations, and that because of these "misrepresentations, material omissions, and business practices, Plaintiff and the Class believed that Defendant was selling and providing a safe and reliable rifle for hunting and/or target practice." (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff also alleged that the transactions at issue were in or affecting commerce, and that the alleged unfair or deceptive acts of Defendant would lead reasonable consumers to believe that the 597 17 HMR and its ammunition "would be free from defects and fit for their intended purpose." (Id.) However, Plaintiff did not make any allegations as to his use of the 597 17 HMRs since he purchased them. Plaintiff complained that consumers were never informed what Defendant's response would be in the event of a recall, and that the coupons Defendant offered to owners of a 597 17 HMR "do not necessarily provide a full refund... and... require consumers to buy another Remington product." (Id.) Plaintiff concluded with general allegations that Defendant's "misrepresentations, material omissions, and business practices... constitute unfair and/or deceptive acts or practices" under the UDTPA, which "proximately caused actual injury/damage" to the class, including Plaintiff. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff nowhere specified any injury or how such an injury was caused by Defendant.
On January 20, 2011, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #12] based upon Plaintiff's Amended Complaint's failure to state a claim. On June 7, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension of Time to File Class Certification [Doc. #22]. On June 25, 2013, Magistrate Judge Joe L. Webster issued an Order [Doc. #33] consolidating Plaintiff's case with Henderson v. Remington Arms Company, LLC, case number 1:12-cv-437, and Yancey v. Remington Arms Company, LLC, case number 12-cv-477, and the Magistrate Judge designated Yancey as the lead case. Defendant filed Motions to Dismiss in all three cases. On September 30, 2013, Magistrate Judge Webster issued his Memorandum Opinion and Recommendation [Doc. #34] recommending that all three cases be dismissed.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
In evaluating a Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Fourth Circuit instructs that "[w]e take the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, ' but we need not accept the legal conclusions drawn from the facts.'" Spaulding v. Wells Fargo Bank, 714 F.3d 769, 776 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000)). "[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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Such "facial plausibility" is satisfied when "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . However, "legal conclusions, elements of a cause of action, and bare assertions devoid of further factual enhancement fail to constitute well-pled facts, " and a court does not consider "unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments" when evaluating the legal sufficiency of a complaint on a 12(b)(6) motion. Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation as to his breach of warranty claim under the MMWA and his claim under the UDTPA. Plaintiff's objections are largely restatements-sometimes verbatim-of his arguments offered in his Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #16]. Upon review, the Court finds that Plaintiff's arguments do not ...