Carter v. Bentley Motors Inc., 1:19-cv-18035-NLH-JS

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
Writing for the CourtHILLMAN, District Judge
Citation489 F.Supp.3d 316
Parties Samantha CARTER, Plaintiff, v. BENTLEY MOTORS INC. and F.C. Kerbeck Bentley, Defendants.
Decision Date25 September 2020
Docket Number1:19-cv-18035-NLH-JS

489 F.Supp.3d 316

Samantha CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
BENTLEY MOTORS INC. and F.C. Kerbeck Bentley, Defendants.

1:19-cv-18035-NLH-JS

United States District Court, D. New Jersey.

Signed September 25, 2020


489 F.Supp.3d 318

SAMANTHA CARTER, 1001 S MAIN ST., SUITE 49, KALISPELL, MT 59901, Plaintiff Pro se.

GREGORY EDWARD REID, SILLS CUMMIS & GROSS PC, ONE RIVERFRONT PLAZA, NEWARK, NJ 07102, Joseph Buckley Attorney for Defendant Bentley Motors Inc.

MELISSA JENNIFER BROWN, MARKS O'NEILL O'BRIEN DOHERTY & KELLY, P.C., CHERRY TREE CORPORATE CENTER, 535 ROUTE 38 EAST, SUITE 501, CHERRY HILL, NJ 08002, Attorney for Defendant F.C. Kerbeck Bentley.

HILLMAN, District Judge

This matter comes before the Court by way of Defendants’ motions to dismiss. Pro Se Plaintiff Samantha Carter filed a complaint on September 16, 2019, alleging she experienced racial discrimination in the course of attempting to purchase a vehicle. For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant Defendant Bentley Motors Inc.’s ("Bentley Motors") motion to dismiss and grant in part and deny in part F.C. Kerbeck Bentley's ("F.C. Kerbeck") motion to dismiss. The Court will grant Plaintiff leave to amend her complaint.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Samantha Carter is a woman of color1 and former Bentley salesperson. According to Plaintiff, as a former Bentley salesperson she had witnessed discrimination against people of color inquiring about purchasing Bentleys, but did not expect to be the subject of discrimination herself when she later sought to purchase a Bentley. Plaintiff has alleged that she visited F.C. Kerbeck, a dealership located in Palmyra,

489 F.Supp.3d 319

New Jersey, on January 15, 2019 with intentions of purchasing a vehicle. Plaintiff alleges she had previously made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase a Bentley from a different Bentley dealership named Bentley O'Gara.2

Plaintiff alleges she was greeted by an F.C. Kerbeck salesperson named Brian McKnight.3 Plaintiff alleges that she was told she could not test drive a vehicle without paying for it first. According to Plaintiff, after questioning the salesperson and hearing from another F.C. Kerbeck employee that there was no policy preventing her from test driving a car, she was able to test drive an Aston Martin.

Plaintiff alleges that she then gave F.C. Kerbeck a $100,000 deposit for a Bentley, using her phone to wire the money to the dealership. Plaintiff claims that while she was given information to wire her money, she was not provided an order form or other documentation to complete a purchase. At this time, Plaintiff alleges that the salesperson stated that he would send her a receipt and a list of Bentley Bentaygas available for purchase. The salesperson also informed Plaintiff that the dealership would be closing in the near future. Plaintiff alleges that she informed the salesperson that she is "a floater" and was not sure where she would register the car and was considering putting the vehicle in her trust or holding companies. ECF No. 1, ¶ 13.

Plaintiff alleges that she had not received a receipt or list of available vehicles by January 20, 2019. According to Plaintiff, the dealership began ignoring her. Plaintiff alleges that she contacted the dealership by email, phone, and in person over ten times about her deposit. At one point, Plaintiff was told to pick up her check from the dealership. When Plaintiff arrived at the dealership on February 12, 2019, Plaintiff alleges that the dealership informed her that they did not have a check for her.

Plaintiff alleges that McKnight informed her by email that he would mail her a check on February 20, 2019. Plaintiff was allegedly told later that the check would not be mailed to her and she would have to travel to F.C. Kerbeck to retrieve it. Plaintiff states that she informed the dealership that she would not return to the dealership because she had already made this trip once before.

Plaintiff then alleges that she contacted Bentley of North America Customer Service,4 and spoke with two representatives named Brian and John. Plaintiff contends that she pleaded for her money back. According to Plaintiff, John informed her that "as far as Bentley is concerned she could be a drug dealer and that Bentley did not want her money on/around January 5, 2019 when Plaintiff was mistreated at another dealer, Bentley O'Gara." ECF No. 1, ¶ 23. Plaintiff also asserts that John informed her that Bentley Motors had been informed of the Plaintiff's race "based on information given to them by Bentley dealerships." ECF No. 16, ¶ 13.

489 F.Supp.3d 320

Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants5 informed her that they believed her to be suspicious because she arrived at F.C. Kerbeck in New Jersey in a Porsche with Montana license plates and attempted to pay for a Bentley in cash. Plaintiff further asserts that dealership employees stated that "young black women cannot afford to pay cash for Bentley vehicles unless they are involved in illegal activity or married to a White man." ECF No. 1, ¶ 29. Plaintiff states that employees at F.C. Kerbeck asked her where her money came from and how she could afford to purchase a Bentley.6

Plaintiff alleges she also spoke with Joseph Innaurato, who Plaintiff claims is a general manager and agent for one of the Defendants. Plaintiff alleges that Innaurato communicated to her that F.C. Kerbeck would neither sell her a car nor return her money. Plaintiff alleges that in March 2019, Bentley Motors "hung up the phone in Plaintiff's face with no returned phone calls or interference to aide in the matter after she informed them her money had been taken." Plaintiff states she realized that after she contacted other Bentley dealerships and received poor customer service, she realized that she had been blacklisted from purchasing a Bentley.

Plaintiff asserts that on March 20, 2019 she sent a notice to file suit against F.C. Kerbeck. Plaintiff alleges her money was returned to her on March 20, 2019.

Plaintiff filed a complaint on September 16, 2019 containing two counts: (1) violations of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ; and (2) violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act ("ECOA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1691 and 12 U.S.C. § 1551. Plaintiff's complaint seeks damages, actual and compensatory, and punitive damages for anguish, injury to reputation, and loss of enjoyment of life. Plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief to protect her from any harassment, intimidation or defamation, as well as legal fees.

Defendant F.C. Kerbeck filed a motion to dismiss on October 23, 2019. Defendant Bentley Motors filed a motion to dismiss on December 2, 2019. This matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for adjudication.

DISCUSSION

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

This Court has original federal question jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff has alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 15 U.S.C. § 1691.

B. Standard for a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a court may dismiss a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In considering a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the pleader. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005) ; see also Phillips v. Cnty. Of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008) ("[I]n deciding a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), [a district court is] ... required to accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all inferences from the facts alleged in the

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light most favorable to" the plaintiff). A pleading is sufficient if it contains a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).

When weighing a motion to dismiss, the Court does not ask "whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims[.]’ " Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 562 n. 8, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974) ); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) ("Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for ‘all civil actions.’ ") (citations omitted).

In applying the Twombly/Iqbal standard, a district court will first "accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusion." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ). Next, the Court will "determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a ‘plausible claim for relief.’ " Id. at 211 (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ).

To meet this standard, a "complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief." Id.; see also Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 ("The Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the...

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2 practice notes
  • CDK Global, LLC v. Tulley Auto. Grp., Inc., Civ. No. 15-3103 (KM) (JBC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • September 25, 2020
    ...of contract claim remains in the case.IV. ConclusionFor the reasons set forth above, I will grant CDK's motions for summary judgment 489 F.Supp.3d 316 on Tulley's common law fraud counterclaim (Counterclaim 1), but otherwise deny their motion for summary judgment on other claims; deny Tulle......
  • Blueprint Capital Advisors, LLC v. Murphy, Civil Action 2:20-cv-07663 (JXN) (ESK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • December 23, 2022
    ...allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the pleader. Carter v. Bentley Motors Inc., 489 F.Supp.3d 316, 320-21 (D.N.J. 2020) (citing Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)); see also Phillips v. Cnty. Of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d ......
2 cases
  • CDK Global, LLC v. Tulley Auto. Grp., Inc., Civ. No. 15-3103 (KM) (JBC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • September 25, 2020
    ...of contract claim remains in the case.IV. ConclusionFor the reasons set forth above, I will grant CDK's motions for summary judgment 489 F.Supp.3d 316 on Tulley's common law fraud counterclaim (Counterclaim 1), but otherwise deny their motion for summary judgment on other claims; deny Tulle......
  • Blueprint Capital Advisors, LLC v. Murphy, Civil Action 2:20-cv-07663 (JXN) (ESK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • December 23, 2022
    ...allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the pleader. Carter v. Bentley Motors Inc., 489 F.Supp.3d 316, 320-21 (D.N.J. 2020) (citing Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)); see also Phillips v. Cnty. Of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d ......

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