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Barranco v. Chesaco Motors, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 1, 2019



          Stephanie A. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge

         This case has been referred to me for all proceedings by consent of the parties. ECF 39. On July 20, 2018, Plaintiff Frank John Barranco (“Plaintiff) filed an Amended Complaint against Defendants Chesaco Motors, Inc. t/a Happy Travelers RV (“Chesaco”), John Kent, Equipment Repair, Inc. t/a John Kent Auto and Truck Service (“ERI”), and Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company d/b/a M&T Bank (“M&T Bank”), for claims arising out of Plaintiff s purchase of a recreational vehicle (“RV”). ECF 25. Defendants Kent and ERI (collectively “the Kent Defendants”) have filed a pre-discovery motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 33. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion, and the Kent Defendants have replied. ECF 36, 37. No hearing is necessary to resolve the motion. See Local Rule 105(6). For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Kent Defendants' motion to dismiss.

         I. Factual Background

         On May 31, 2017, Plaintiff purchased an RV from Chesaco, and was told that an inspection certificate would be provided shortly. ECF 25 ¶ 8. On or about June 2, 2017, Plaintiff arrived at Chesaco to pick up his RV, and was told that the inspection was not yet complete, and that he would have to bring the RV back the following week. Id. ¶ 10. Chesaco told Plaintiff not to drive the RV more than 1000 miles until the inspection was finished. Id. Plaintiff took his family on a short trip in the RV, and noted that the RV exhibited numerous problems. Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff returned the RV to Chesaco for repairs. Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiff then picked the RV up for a second time, but again returned it to Chesaco for repairs after noting a number of continuing issues. Id. ¶ 15.

         On June 23, 2017, Kent, “as agent, servant, and/or employee of ERI, ” performed a vehicle inspection on the RV, and issued an inspection report indicating that the RV had passed. Id. ¶¶ 16-17. Four days later, Chesaco informed Plaintiff that the RV had been repaired and had passed inspection. Id. Shortly after Plaintiff picked the RV up, it “continued to exhibit dangerous defects” and “stopped running.” Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiff again returned the RV to Chesaco on July 10, 2017, and the RV remained at Chesaco for approximately six weeks. Id. ¶ 18.

         In late August, 2017, Plaintiff's attorney provided formal written notice to Chesaco of the continued “problems and defects with the vehicle and breaches of state and federal warranties.” Id. ¶ 19. The attorney demanded that Chesaco fix the RV. Id.

         On August 31, 2017, Chesaco returned the RV to Plaintiff, and assured him that it had been completely repaired. Id. ¶ 20. At that time, however, Plaintiff noticed significant new cosmetic issues in the interior of the RV. Id. ¶ 21.

         On October 21, 2017, Plaintiff took the RV to Brooks Ramsey RV to obtain a diagnostic inspection. Id. ¶ 22. Brooks Ramsey RV opined that the RV was unsafe to drive, and should be towed. Id. ¶ 22.

         At a later date (not specified in the Amended Complaint), an expert advised Plaintiff “that the vehicle should not have passed inspection, ” “was not merchantable and was dangerous and defective at the time of sale, and remains unmerchantable, defective and dangerous.” Id. ¶ 24. On January 4, 2018, Plaintiff first sought rescission of the RV sale through M&T Bank, but rescission was denied. Id. ¶ 27, 28. Plaintiff filed his original Complaint in this Court on April 5, 2018. ECF I. The Kent Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the original Complaint, citing a series of pleading deficiencies, ECF 17, and Plaintiff responded by filing the Amended Complaint at issue in the instant motion, ECF 25.

         II. Legal Standards

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a defendant to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint or count. In re Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016). In a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a defendant asserts that, as a matter of law, the complaint fails “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) sets forth the requirements for pleading a claim, specifically that the complaint contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” That Rule is intended to ensure that defendants have “fair notice” of the claims against them. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

         A complaint complies with the relevant pleading standards where it sets forth facts sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (“Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for all civil actions.”) (quotation and citation omitted); see also Willner v. Dimon, 849 F.3d 93, 112 (4th Cir. 2017). The facts alleged must be more than bald accusations or mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2013). A complaint consisting of “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” is also insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Although a plaintiff need not include “detailed factual allegations, ” the complaint must contain “enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest” a viable claim, “even if ... [the] actual proof of those facts is improbable and ... recovery is very remote and unlikely.” Id. at 555, 556 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         A court reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion “must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint” and must “draw all reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the plaintiff.” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (quotations and citations omitted); see Semenova v. Maryland Transit Admin., 845 F.3d 564, 567 (4th Cir. 2017); Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015). However, the ...

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