United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MOHAMMAD A. MIAN, Plaintiff.
GENERAL MANAGER, BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON MANHEIM AUCTION, Defendant.
THEODORE D. CHUANG, United States District Judge
This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 9, filed by Defendant Manheim Remarketing, Inc. d/b/a/ Manheim Baltimore-Washington ("Manheim"). The issue before the Court is whether the Complaint filed by Plaintiff Mohammad A. Mian ("Mian") sufficiently states a cause of action upon which relief may be granted. The Court has reviewed the Complaint and briefs and has determined that no hearing is warranted. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED.
The instant pro se civil action was filed on August 11, 2014 by Mian, the former owner and operator of Mid-Atlantic Automotive Supply Company ("Mid-Atlantic"), a wholesale used car dealership in Silver Spring, Maryland. While Mian was the owner of Mid-Atlantic, he sold his cars at Manheim's weekly car auction in Baltimore. Mian alleges that for '[y]ears before, " Manheim ran its auctions on a "first come first serve system, " meaning that as soon as a car entered Manheim's main gates, it was entered into the computer system and placed automatically in the row and run number generated by the computer, but that at some point, Manheim began to assign the row and run numbers manually. Compl. ¶ 5, ECF No. 1. Mian alleges that this new system was unfair and discriminatory, because, as was common knowledge to the dealers, those cars with the earliest assignments tended to sell quickly and for competitive prices, while those cars with later assignments did not. Mian alleges that he filed complaints with Manheim's General Manager on August 8. 2012 and January 18, 2013, but that he eventually lost his business in February 2013.
Mian also alleges that, in response to his complaints. Manheim explained that "placement of cars in the auction lanes on quantity basis was their privilege, " and that they had put his cars at the end of the auction because of his relatively small inventory. Id. ¶ 11. Mian alleges that these practices are in violation of federal and state laws against unfair or deceptive trade practices. Specifically, the Complaint states: "The applicable law here is 7 U.S. Code Section 213 which provides "Prevention of unfair, discriminatory, or deceptive practice.'"Id. ¶ 13. It also references the Maryland Consumer Protection Act ("MCPA"), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law §§ 13-301-501 (West 2014), and the Maryland Antitrust Act ("MAA"), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law§§ 11-201-213.
On October 2. 2014, Manheim filed its Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(5). In response, on October 22, 2014, Mian filed a "Motion to Strike Defendant's Motion with his Memorandum of Law17 (hereinafter "Opp. Mot. Dismiss"), in which he both requested that the Court strike Manheim's Motion to Dismiss and made substantive arguments refuting Manheim's contention that the Complaint failed to state a claim. The Court treats Mian's filing as both a Motion to Strike and a Memorandum in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. Both the Motion to Dismiss and the Motion to Strike have been fully briefed and are ripe for adjudication.
I. Plaintiffs Motion to Strike
The Court first addresses Mian's Motion to Strike the Motion to Dismiss. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(1). the court "may strike from a pleading any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Ted. R. Civ. P, 12(0- In this case, the Motion to Dismiss is neither a pleading, see Thomas v. Bel Sound-Stage Rest./Brett Co, Inc., 61 F.Supp. 2d, 448, 458 (D. Md. 1999) ("As motions to dismiss are not pleadings. Plaintiffs motions to strike are inappropriate.'"), nor is it redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous in its content. Mian argues that the Court should strike the Motion because Manheim did not answer the Complaint, as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(b)(1)(B), and "instead, adopted an irregular way in the answer to mislead the Court with redundant and impertinent material, " Opp. Mot. Dismiss at 2, Mian is correct that Manheim*s Motion to Dismiss is not an answer under Rule 8(b)(1)(B), However, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b), a defendant is permitted, before filing its answer, to assert various defenses by motion, including a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Manheim's Motion to Dismiss is properly filed, and its content is not redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous. See Schultz v. Braga, 290 F.Supp.2d 637, 654-55 (D. Md. 2003) (explaining that motions to strike "should be denied unless the allegations have no possible relation to the controversy and may cause prejudice to one of the parties") (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)). Thus. Mian's Motion to Strike is denied.
II. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
In its Motion to Dismiss. Manheim argues that the Complaint should be dismissed under both Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to slate a claim and under Rule 12(b)(5) fur insufficient service of process. Although Mian docs not number his causes of action, the Complaint invokes three statutes: 7 U.S.C. § 213, the MCPA, and the MAA. The Court addresses each in turn and concludes that Mian does not state a cause of action under any of the three. Because the Court dismisses the Complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim, die Court does not reach the question whether service was insufficient in this case.
A. Legal Standard
In order lo defeat a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must allege enough facts to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v.Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twambly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible when “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the Court lo draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, " Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (emphasis added). In assessing whether this standard has been met, the Court must examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Davidson Cnfy., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005). However, legal conclusions or conclusory statements do not suffice and are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Notably, "a ...