United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Spartanburg Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE
a breach of contract putative class action. This is one of
several putative class lawsuits filed against Defendant
Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. (Defendant) across the United States.
The Court has jurisdiction over the matter under 28 U.S.C.
before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss the
First Amended Class Action Complaint (Complaint) pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Having
reviewed the motion, the response, the reply, the record, and
the applicable law, the Court will deny Defendant's
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Court draws the relevant facts for purposes of this motion
from the Complaint. Plaintiff In & Out Welders, Inc.
(Plaintiff) is an Alabama corporation. Defendant is a North
Carolina corporation with its principal place of business in
South Carolina. Plaintiff has rented equipment from Defendant
in at least sixteen states, including South Carolina.
alleges Defendant requires every customer seeking to rent
equipment to enter into a standard, pre-printed rental
contract. Plaintiff attached a blank form contract to the
Complaint, which Plaintiff states contains identical relevant
language for every transaction throughout the putative class
period. This form contract establishes, in relevant part:
Customer is responsible for (i) all rental rates, fees,
licenses, taxes and governmental charges based on
Customer's use of the Equipment[;] (ii) delivery and
pickup costs to and from the Store; [and] (vi) fuel used
during the Rental Period (Customer may either return the
Equipment fully fueled or a fuel charge shall be assessed
(designed to cover [Defendant's] direct and indirect
costs of refueling the Equipment)) . . . .
29-1 at 3. Pursuant to the rental contracts, if Defendant
refuels or transports equipment, it may charge for (1)
refueling an amount “designed to cover
[Defendant's] direct and indirect costs of
refueling” (the Refueling Charges) and for (2)
transportation an amount designed to cover its
“delivery and pickup costs to and from the Store”
(the Transportation Surcharges). ECF No. 29 at 8-9.
Complaint avers Defendant knowingly breached these
contractual mandates by assessing (1) Refueling Charges not
designed to cover just its refueling costs, which resulted in
Defendant recovering far more than those costs, and (2)
Transportation Surcharges on top of what Defendant already
charged for pickup and delivery, ensuring Defendant recovered
far more than its pickup and delivery costs. Plaintiff
maintains no putative class member in this action could have
had full knowledge of the alleged unlawful nature of
filed its motion to dismiss on April 21, 2017, to which
Plaintiff filed a response and Defendant filed a reply. In
Defendant's motion to dismiss, it attached a sample
contract purportedly reflecting a September 10, 2014, rental
transaction between Plaintiff and Defendant, along with
related invoices. ECF Nos. 37-2 to -5. The Court, having been
fully briefed on the relevant issues, is now prepared to
discuss the merits of Defendant's motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency
of a complaint.” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro,
178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). To survive a motion to
dismiss, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a
complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) (2).
Rule 8(a) does not require “'detailed factual
allegations, '” it requires “more than an
unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation,
” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007)), to “'give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,
'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). In other
words, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
A claim is facially plausible ...