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Sandviks v. PhD Fitness LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division

March 20, 2018

John Sandviks, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
PhD Fitness, LLC, a California Limited Liability Company, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         This matter is before the court pursuant to Defendant PhD Fitness, LLC's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff John Sandviks' Amended Class Action Complaint (“Amended Complaint”) for failure to state a claim (ECF No. 22). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendant's Motion (ECF No. 28). For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 22).

         I. JURISDICTION

         The court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because (1) the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000.00, exclusive of interests and costs; (2) Defendant is a citizen of California and Plaintiff is a citizen of South Carolina (complete diversity exists); and (3) there are 100 or more members of the proposed Plaintiff class. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332; (ECF No. 17 at ¶ 9). When a federal court sits in diversity jurisdiction, it applies federal procedural law and state substantive law. See Gasperini v. Ctr. For Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415, 427 (1996).

         II. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKRGOUND

         Defendant is a sport supplement company. (ECF No. 17 at ¶ 8.) Defendant formulates, manufactures, advertises and sells workout supplements (collectively, the “Products”). (Id.) Plaintiff brought his claims individually and on behalf of unnamed class members (collectively, the “Class”) in the State of South Carolina pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. (Id. at ¶ 71.) During the relevant period, members of the Class purchased the Products in South Carolina through numerous brick and mortar retail locations and online websites. (Id. at ¶ 6.) Plaintiff purchased several of Defendant's Products, including Pre-JYM and Post-JYM. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Plaintiff purchased Defendant's Pre-JYM and Post-JYM Products at Bodybuilding.com numerous times over the past two years. (Id.)

         On March 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint (ECF No. 1) and on July 14, 2017, filed his Amended Complaint for Breach of Express Warranties (Count I), Breach of Implied Warranties (Count II), Negligent Misrepresentation (Count III), Intentional Misrepresentation (Count IV), Fraudulent Inducement (Count V), and Unjust Enrichment (in the Alternative to Counts I and II) (ECF No. 17). Plaintiff espouses that he read and relied on the Products' labels before he bought the Products and believed on the basis of the labels' representations that the Products contained the proper doses of the ingredients listed on the labels. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Specifically, Plaintiff read and relied on the Pre-JYM label, which states, “Every ingredient in this formula is in a dose use[d] in clinical studies and my own gym to produce significant gains in size, strength and endurance.” (Id. at ¶ 63.)

         However, as demonstrated by the studies Plaintiff cites in the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff posits that the majority of these ingredients are not properly dosed, have no scientific backing and/or have simply been found to be completely ineffective, making Defendant's claims on the Pre-JYM label “demonstrably false.” (ECF No. 28 at 9.) In addition, Plaintiff claims he read and relied on the Post-JYM product, which states, “Those ingredients, in full research backed doses, are in this bottle.” (Id. at ¶ 64.) However, as demonstrated by the studies Plaintiff cites in the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that the majority of these ingredients are not properly dosed, have no scientific backing and/or have simply been found to be completely ineffective, making Defendant's claims on the Post-JYM label “demonstrably false.” (ECF No. 28 at 10.) Plaintiff and the Class assert that they would not have purchased the Products had they known that the Products did not contain proper doses of the ingredients listed on the Products' labels and in Defendant's advertisements. (Id.)

         On August 11, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss stating that Plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief. (ECF No. 22.) On September 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 28), and Defendant filed a reply (ECF No. 31). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a Supplemental Response[1] (ECF No. 36), and Defendant filed a Supplemental Sur Reply (ECF No. 39).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted “challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint.” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted); see also Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (“A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) . . . does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.”). To be legally sufficient, a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion “should not be granted unless it appears certain that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts which would support its claim and would entitle it to relief.” Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court should accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Ostrzenski v. Seigel, 177 F.3d 245, 251 (4th Cir. 1999). “To survive a motion to dismiss, 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)). “A claim has facial plausibility 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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. Breach of Express Warranties (Count I) and Breach of Implied Warranties (Count II)

         Defendant asserts that Counts I and II must be dismissed because Plaintiff did not give the requisite notice to Defendant prior to filing the express warranty claim or the implied warranty claim. (ECF No. 22 at 11.) South Carolina law requires that, after the acceptance of goods, “the buyer must within a reasonable time after he discovers or should have discovered any breach notify the seller of breach or be barred from any remedy.” S.C. Code Ann. §36-2-607(3)(a)(2013); Hitachi Elec. Devises (USA), Inc. v. Platinum Techs, Inc., 366 S.C. 163, 169 (2005) (dismissing a buyer's claims when he failed to give reasonable notice). Plaintiff's claims are barred if he fails to properly allege that he gave such notice of his warranty claims prior to filing a lawsuit. See In re Bausch & Lomb Inc. Contacts Lens Solution Prod. Liab. Litig., 2008 WL 2308759, at *6 (D.S.C. Apr. 9, 2008) (‚ÄúThere is no allegation in the amended complaint that [plaintiffs] gave notice of the alleged breach, either within a reasonable time or otherwise. Accordingly, [plaintiffs' ...


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