United States District Court, D. Delaware
TIMOTHY CANFIELD, ANDREW CATTANO, JAMES LETT, DENNIS PECK, STEVEN SPRATLEY, SUSAN STEBBINS, and YVETTE TAYLOR, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs.
FCA U.S. LLC, Defendants
Jeffrey S. Goddess, P. Bradford deLeeuw, Rosenthal, Monhait
& Goddess, P.A., Wilmington, DE; Nicholas A. Migliaccio,
Jason S. Rathod, Migliaccio & Rathod LLP, Washington, DC
- attorneys for Plaintiff
Kenneth L. Dorsney, Morris James LLP, Wilmington, DE; Kathy
A. Wisniewski, Stephen A. D'Aunoy, Thompson Coburn LLP,
St. Louis, MO - attorneys for Defendants March 8, 2019
NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE:
before the Court are the objections of Defendant FCA U.S. LLC
(“Defendant” or “FCA”) (D.I. 25,
“the Objections”) to Magistrate Judge
Fallon's Report and Recommendation (D.I. 21, “the
Report”). The Report recommended granting-in-part and
denying-in-part Defendant's motion to dismiss (D.I. 12)
the putative class action First Amended Complaint (D.I. 11)
(“the Amended Complaint”) filed by Plaintiffs.
The Court has reviewed the Report, Defendant's
objections, and Plaintiffs' responses thereto (D.I. 29).
The Court considers de novo the objected to portions
of the Report and the relevant portions of Defendant's
motion to dismiss and Plaintiffs' response to the
motion. (See D.I. 12, 13, 17, 18). For
the reasons set forth below, Defendant's objections are
OVERRULED, the Report is ADOPTED and Defendant's motion
to dismiss will be GRANTED-IN-PART and DENIED-IN-PART.
October 12, 2017, Plaintiffs Timothy Canfield, Andrew
Cattano, James Lett, Dennis Peck, Steven Spratley, Susan
Stebbins, and Yvette Taylor (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) filed a class action complaint
against FCA in the Superior Court of Delaware. (D.I. 1, Ex. A).
On December 12, 2017, FCA removed the case to this Court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(2), 1441, and 1446
(D.I. 1) and subsequently filed a motion to dismiss pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on January 18, 2018 (D.I. 6). On
February 1, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the Amended Complaint.
Amended Complaint alleges that 2010 Jeep Liberty, Chrysler
Town & Country, and Dodge Journey vehicles, manufactured
by FCA after June 10, 2009 (“Class
Vehicles”),  are equipped with a defective component -
a “copper-bearing aluminum 2000 series metal alloy
(“AL2000”) valve stem and nut on vehicles
equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system
(“TPMS”).” (D.I. 11 ¶¶ 1, 8, 24).
Plaintiffs allege that this defective component is subject to
corrosion and valve stem failure when “exposed to
corrosive elements like road salt.” (Id.
¶ 4). Moreover, the Amended Complaint asserts that
“[w]hen the valve stem fails, air can be rapidly
released from the tire without warning (an
“air-out”) and at any speed, a condition akin to
a tire blow out.” (Id.). Plaintiffs allege
that FCA “actively concealed and/or failed to notify
the public of the existence and nature of said defect or of
the possible safety issues presented by the defect.”
(Id. ¶ 11).
Report summarizes, the Amended Complaint characterizes each
of the Plaintiffs as follows:
i. Canfield: In January 2013, Canfield
purchased a used 2010 Dodge Journey with 15, 000 miles from
an undisclosed dealership in Caro, Michigan. (Id. at
¶ 93). In December 2015, at an undisclosed mileage,
Canfield took his vehicle to a Walmart to have a valve stem
replaced. (Id. at ¶ 97). In January 2016, at an
undisclosed mileage, he took his vehicle to a Belle Tire to
have a second valve stem replaced. (Id. at ¶
98). In both instances, he sought a repair because the
“TPMS light flashed on the dashboard, ” alerting
him that a tire had low pressure, “before a nearly
instantaneous air-out of one of his tires.”
(Id. at ¶ 96).
ii. Cattano: In 2010, Cattano purchased a
2010 Jeep Liberty with undisclosed miles from a Chrysler
dealership in Summit, New Jersey. (Id. at ¶
99). On May 23, 2015, Cattano was driving his vehicle on the
highway when the TPMS light came on. (Id. at ¶
102). Almost instantaneously, his right rear tire had an
air-out. (Id.). Cattano momentarily lost control of
his car, but successfully pulled his vehicle over.
(Id.). He observed that the TPMS module was missing,
leaving a hole in the tire's sidewall. (Id.).
Eventually, on an undisclosed date and at an undisclosed
mileage, Cattano took his vehicle to an undisclosed mechanic
who recommended replacing and then replaced four valve stems
on his vehicle because the TPMS valve stems on his other
three tires had begun to crack. (Id. at ¶ 103).
iii. Lett: In March 2010, Lett purchased a
new 2010 Chrysler Town & Country with undisclosed miles
from a Chrysler dealership in Avon Lake, Ohio. (Id.
at ¶ 105). In June 2014, Lett's wife was driving the
vehicle when a tire suffered an air-out at an undisclosed
mileage. (Id. at ¶ 107). Lett's wife
initially lost control of the vehicle, but successfully
pulled the vehicle over. (Id.). Upon inspecting the
blown out tire, Lett observed a corroded valve stem, which
Lett had replaced on an undisclosed date and at an
undisclosed mileage. (Id.). In the summer of 2015,
Lett replaced four valve stems on his vehicle after observing
that three were cracked and one was corroded. (Id.
at ¶ 108).
iv. Peck: In approximately June 2010, Peck
purchased a new 2010 Dodge Journey with undisclosed miles
from a Chrysler dealership in Clinton, Michigan.
(Id. at ¶ 109). On March 3, 2015, at an
undisclosed mileage, Peck was driving when he heard a loud
noise and saw that the vehicle's TPMS warning light had
come on. (Id. at ¶ 112). Initially, Peck
“felt the car pull to the left, ” but he
successfully pulled the vehicle to the side of the road.
(Id.). He then observed that the TPMS module was
missing and left a hole in the tire. (Id.) As a
result, Peck had a tire and TPMS valve stem replaced.
(Id. at ¶ 113)
v. Spratley: In an undisclosed month in
2012, Spratley purchased a certified, pre-owned 2010 Chrysler
Town & Country with “about 65, 000 miles”
from a Chrysler dealership in Jersey City, New Jersey.
(Id. at ¶ 114). In early 2015, at an
undisclosed mileage, Spratley took his vehicle to an
undisclosed mechanic after experiencing a leak in the tire.
(Id. at ¶ 117). The mechanic noted two cracked
valve stems, which Spratley had replaced. (Id. at
vi. Stebbins: In August 2012, Stebbins
purchased a used 2010 Dodge Journey with 37, 000 miles from
an undisclosed seller in New Jersey. (Id. at ¶
119). On November 23, 2014, at an undisclosed mileage,
Stebbins saw the vehicle's TPMS warning light come on and
experienced an air-out of a tire. (Id. at ¶
122). She momentarily lost control of her vehicle, but
successfully pulled the vehicle over. (Id.).
Stebbins observed that the TPMS module was missing and left a
hole in her tire. (Id.). Stebbins's car was
serviced at International Tire and Parts, where she had two
tires and three TPMS valve stems replaced. (Id. at
vii. Taylor: In November 2010, Taylor
purchased a used 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan with undisclosed
miles from a third-party in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
(Id. at ¶ 124). On December 8, 2014, Taylor
paid $140.43 for her mechanic at a D.E. Bourque & Sons,
Inc. Automotive Service & Sales to investigate her
under-inflated tire and replace her leaking TPMS.
(Id. at ¶ 128). She returned to her mechanic on
February 5, 2015 and paid $134.49 to investigate another
under-inflated tire and replace another TPMS. (Id.
at ¶ 129). She visited her mechanic again on April 27,
2016 and paid $259.76 for her mechanic to remove and replace
TPMS on her rear passenger side and front driver side tires.
(Id. at ¶ 130). On all three visits,
Taylor's mechanic informed her that the TPMS was corroded
and causing her tire to lose air. (Id. at
(D.I. 21 at 3-5) (citing D.I. 11).
February 15, 2018, FCA filed its current motion to dismiss
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (D.I. 12). Plaintiffs opposed the
motion and Magistrate Judge Fallon heard oral argument on May
8, 2018. Magistrate Judge Fallon produced the Report on
January 8, 2019. (D.I. 21). On January 22, 2019, FCA filed
objections to certain portions of the Report. (D.I. 25).
Plaintiffs timely submitted a response to ...