United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Gary Weinreich, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., a California corporation; Toyota Motor Corporation, a Japanese corporation; Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc., Defendants.
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Court Judge.
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 10)
and Plaintiffs Motion to Amend the Complaint. (Dkt. No. 19.)
For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is
granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiffs motion is
Gary Weinreich alleges that in June 2005 he purchased a new
Toyota 4-Runner Sport (the "Car"). (Dkt. No. 1 at
¶ 27.) Plaintiff alleges that in both 2011 and 2013,
when he took his car to be serviced at the Toyota Service
Center in Myrtle Beach, mechanics noted that the Car's
undercarriage was severely rusted, including on the
transmission, however no one indicated there was
"structural or safety" problems from the rust.
(Id. at ¶¶ 29 - 31.) In 2017, while his
Car was being serviced by Meineke, Plaintiff was informed
that his Car had "excessive frame corrosion."
(Id. at ¶ 32.) Plaintiff also alleges that this
is the first time he was informed that other Toyota cars had
a customer support program for corrosion issues.
24, 2018, while Plaintiff was driving the Car, the wheel
began vibrating and Plaintiff lost control of the Car.
(Id. at ¶ 35.) The Car was towed to a garage,
and Plaintiff alleges that it was determined that the right
front control arm of the Car broke away from the frame due to
corrosion and rust. (Id. at ¶ 36.) Plaintiff
alleges that Toyota knew of the alleged defect in the frame,
namely inadequate rust corrosion protection, as Toyota had
previously initiated service campaigns to address excessive
rust on alleged substantially similar car frames on other
Toyota vehicles. (Id. at ¶¶ 16, 22 -
26.) Plaintiff has since filed a complaint with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration and claims to bring
this case for himself and on behalf of a class of plaintiffs
who owned 2005 - 2011 Toyota 4-Runners. (Id. at
¶¶ 38, 42.)
brought this products liability case on December 6, 2018,
alleging that Defendants Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.,
Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Engineering and
Manufacturing North America, Inc. (collectively,
"Defendants") breached implied and express
warranties, violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15
U.S.C. § 2301 et seq., and engaged in negligent
misrepresentation by selling Plaintiff a Toyota 4-Runner that
was prone to "excessive rust corrosion," rendering
the vehicle unsafe. (Id. at ¶¶ 50 - 89, 94
- 100.) Plaintiff also brought a claim for injunctive relief.
(Id. at ¶¶ 90 - 93.)
now move to dismiss the Complaint, arguing that Plaintiffs
claims are barred by the statute of limitations and,
regardless, the allegations fail on substantive grounds.
(Dkt. Nos. 10, 11.) Plaintiff opposes the motion. (Dkt. No.
20.) Additionally, Plaintiff also seeks to amend his
complaint. (Dkt. No. 19.) The proposed amended complaint is
almost identical to his initially- filed complaint, yet
includes new causes of action for negligence and strict
liability. (Dkt. No. 19-2.) Defendants oppose the amendment,
and Plaintiff filed a reply. (Dkt. Nos. 24, 25.)
Motion to Dismiss
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the
dismissal of an action if the complaint fails "to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted." Such a motion
tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint and "does
not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of the
claim, or the applicability of defenses.... Our inquiry then
is limited to whether the allegations constitute 'a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief" Republican Party of N.C. v.
Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citations
omitted). In a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court is obligated
to "assume the truth of all facts alleged in the
complaint and the existence of any fact that can be proved,
consistent with the complaint's allegations." E.
Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 213
F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). However, while the Court must
accept the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving
party, it "need not accept as true unwarranted
inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments."
Id. To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint
must state "enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombfy, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although the
requirement of plausibility does not impose a probability
requirement at this stage, the complaint must show more than
a "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). A complaint has "facial plausibility"
where the pleading "allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Id.
Motion to Amend
to Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
after the time has passed to amend a pleading as a matter of
course, "a party may amend its pleading only with the
opposing party's written consent or the court's
leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so
requires." Rule 15(a) is a "liberal rule [that]
gives effect to the federal policy in favor of resolving
cases on their merits instead of disposing of them on
technicalities." Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404,
426 (4th Cir. 2006) (en banc). However,
"[m]otions to amend are committed to the discretion of
the trial court." Keller v. Prince George's
County, 923 F.2d 30, 33 (4th Cir. 1991). Specifically,
the "district court may deny a motion to amend when the
amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, the
moving party has acted in bad faith, or the amendment would
be futile." Equal Rights Ctr., 602 F.3d at
to amend [ ] should only be denied on the ground of futility
when the proposed amendment is clearly insufficient or
frivolous on its face." Johnson v. Oroweat Foods
Co., 785 F.2d 503, 510 (4th Cir. 1986). "If an
amendment would fail to withstand a motion to dismiss, it is
futile." Woods v. Boeing Co., 841 F.Supp.2d
925, 930 (D.S.C. 2012); see also United States ex rel.
Wilson v. Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., 525 F.3d 370,
376 (4th Cir. 2008) ("[A] district court may deny leave
if amending the complaint would be futile-that is, if the
proposed amended complaint fails to satisfy the requirements
of the federal rules.") (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). "Therefore, if any new well-pleaded
facts are asserted in the new proposed complaint, but they
fail to show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief, the
court should deny the motion for leave to amend." In
re. Bldg. Materials Corp. of Am. Asphalt Roofing Shingle
Prod. Liab. Litig., No. 8-11-2000-JMC, 2013 WL 12152414,
at *2 (D.S.C. June 17, 2013).