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Davis v. Toyota Motor Credit Corporation

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 17, 2017

TOYOTA MOTOR CREDIT CORP. et al., Defendants


          James K. Bredar United States District Judge

         I. Background

         In a nine-count complaint, Plaintiff Michelle Davis alleged Defendants Toyota Motor Credit Corporation ("TMCC"), Complete Auto Recovery Services, Inc. d/b/a C.A.R.S. ("C.A.R.S"), Stewart Gray, and Donald Gray committed various violations of Maryland statutory and common law in relation to the repossession of an automobile. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Davis sought actual damages, statutory remedies, and punitive damages. (Id. Prayer for Relief.) Following TMCC's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim (Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 3), Davis filed an amended complaint against the same Defendants (Am. Compl., ECF No. 7).

         In the amended complaint, Davis brings the following counts:

• Count I - Breach of Peace in Seizing the Vehicle (All Defendants)
• Count II - Conversion (All Defendants)
• Count III - Violation of Credit Grantor's Closed End Credit Provisions (TMCC)
• Count IV - Violation of Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (All Defendants)
• Count V - Violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (All Defendants)
• Count VI - Trespass to Chattels (All Defendants)
• Count VII - Trespass (All Defendants)
• Count VIII - Battery (All Defendants)

C.A.R.S., Stewart Gray, and Donald Gray (collectively, "C.A.R.S. Defendants") filed an answer to Davis's complaint. (ECF No. 9.) In response, Davis filed a motion to strike the C.A.R.S. Defendants' affirmative defenses. (ECF No. 11.) TMCC then filed a second motion to dismiss that retained all relevant arguments from its first motion to dismiss and provided argument on the new count of trespass in the amended complaint. (2d Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 14.) The various motions have been briefed (ECF Nos. 8, 13, 15, 17, 18), and no hearing is required, Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). TMCC's motions will be granted, and Davis's motion to strike will be denied. The Court will first address TMCC's motions to dismiss.

         II. Standard of Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim

         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 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. An inference of a mere possibility of misconduct is not sufficient to support a plausible claim. Id. at 679. As the Twombly opinion stated, "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." 550 U.S. at 555. "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' . . . Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertions]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). Although when considering a motion to dismiss a court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint, this principle does not apply to legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         III. Allegations of the Complaint

         Davis resides in Wicomico County, Maryland. (Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) On or about November 1, 2012, Davis entered into a Retail Installment Sale Contract ("RISC") with Pohanka TM Inc. in Salisbury, Maryland, to finance a 2012 Toyota Camry. (Id. ¶ 23.) Pohanka TM Inc. later assigned its interest in the vehicle to TMCC. (Id. ¶ 25.) Davis was required to make monthly installment payments of $749.40 for sixty months beginning on December 16, 2012. (Id. ¶ 26.) TMCC acquired a security interest in the vehicle. (Id. ¶ 27.) The RISC elected the Maryland Credit Grantors Closed End Credit Provisions ("CLEC") to govern the relationship between the parties. (Id. ¶ 28.) TMCC concluded Davis was behind on her payments under the RISC and, as a result, "TMCC hired C.A.R.S. to repossess the vehicle." (Id. ¶ 29.)

         On or about October 21, 2013, "in response to . . . TMCC's request, [Charles] Moor, as employee and/or agent of C.A.R.S. went to . . . Davis' home [in Salisbury] . . . to repossess Plaintiff's vehicle, " which was parked in the driveway of Davis's home. (Id. ¶¶ 30-31.) Moor was driving a tow truck, which he placed in reverse gear and backed into Davis's driveway. (Id. ¶¶ 32-33.) "Moor failed to stop his tow truck in time and crashed into the rear end of the vehicle . . . ." (Id. ¶ 34.) After hearing a loud noise, Davis exited her house and saw the damage the tow truck had caused to the vehicle. (Id. ¶ 36.) "Davis was squatting in the grass in her front yard when she was approached by Moor[, who] . . . began screaming obscenities at Davis while walking across Davis' front yard." (Id. ¶¶ 38-39.) "Moor began striking Davis on her body with a red object that appeared to be a metal pipe." (Id. ¶ 40.) "Moor struck Davis several times on her body with the object[, causing] . . . Davis to fall down to the ground." (Id. ¶¶ 41-42.) "Davis screamed in pain for help while Moor was attacking her." (Id. ¶ 43.) She "maneuvered away from Moor and stood up on her feet[, but o]n two different occasions, Moor pushed Davis back down onto the ground"; on one of those occasions, "Moor pushed Davis down onto a brick border and struck her head violently against it." (Id. ¶¶ 44-46.)

         "Upon seeing Davis' brother exit the house and approach the vehicle, Moor ran away down the street . . . ." (Id. ¶ 47.) A few minutes later, "while Davis was being treated for medical injuries, Defendant Stewart Gray arrived at Davis' house to complete the repossession"; he "took the keys to the vehicle, unlocked the vehicle, turned the vehicle on and drove the vehicle out of Davis' driveway and onto the street." (Id. ΒΆΒΆ 48-49.) "Moor arrived back to Davis' house and hooked up ...

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