In re Porsche Cars North America, Inc. Plastic Coolant Tubes Prods. Liab. Litig., Case No. 2:11-md-2233

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
Docket NumberCase No. 2:11-md-2233
Decision Date19 July 2012


Case No. 2:11-md-2233


Dated: July 19, 2012

Magistrate Judge E.A. Preston Deavers

This document relates to: ALL CASES.


This matter is before the Court for consideration of Porsche Cars North America, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss the Master Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 62), Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant Porsche Cars North America, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss the Master Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 77), and Porsche Cars North America, Inc.'s Reply Brief in Support of Its Motion to Dismiss the Master Consolidated Amendment Class Action Complaint Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 91). For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the motion to dismiss.

I. Background

The plaintiffs in this products liability action are purchasers of Porsche Cayenne, Cayenne GTS, Cayenne S, Cayenne Turbo, or Cayenne Turbo S sport utility vehicles of the model years 2003-2010 ("Cayenne"). Defendants are Porsche Cars North America, Inc. ("PCNA") and the German company Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Aktiengellschaft ("Porsche AG") (collectively, "Defendants"). Porsche AG manufactured the Cayenne and PCNA is the exclusive

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importer of Cayenne vehicles in the United States.

On May 24, 2011, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ("the Panel") consolidated four related product liability actions involving the Cayenne (arising from California, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio) in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407. (ECF No. 1.) The Panel subsequently transferred four related actions from Florida, Georgia, California, and Texas to this Court. (ECF Nos. 3, 4, 11.) On August 25, 2011, the plaintiffs in these eight actions, along with several new individual plaintiffs (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), filed a Consolidated Amended Complaint ("Complaint") with this Court alleging defects in the Cayenne's cooling system. (ECF No. 35.) Plaintiffs brought the Complaint on behalf of a proposed nationwide class of similarly situated Cayenne owners and lessees and proposed subclasses of similarly situated Cayenne owners and lessees in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.

Each individual plaintiff asserts that he or she purchased a Cayenne that came equipped with plastic coolant tubes.1 Plaintiffs assert that such tubes cracked, leaked, or otherwise failed and that, in some cases, the tubes leaked and caused damage to other parts of the engine. When Plaintiffs attempted to repair or replace the coolant tubes, they allegedly learned that Porsche did not offer replacement plastic tubes but instead offered an "OEM update kit" that contained

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aluminum coolant pipes and cost "at least $1,500 to $3,600 per vehicle" to purchase and install. (Id. ¶ 69.)

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants defectively designed the Cayenne by equipping it with plastic coolant tubes instead of aluminum pipes. Plaintiffs argue that the Cayenne's coolant system is defective because coolant tubes are exposed to extreme heat and that, as a result of such exposure, coolant tubes made of plastic will crack and degrade. Plaintiffs add that "most high-end performance vehicles with powerful engines use aluminum pipes to transport the coolant" and that the "extent of wear and tear on the Cayenne's plastic valley coolant tubes is entirely disproportionate to the age of these vehicles." (Id. ¶ 68(b).) Plaintiffs also allege that the use of plastic coolant tubes "implicates serious safety concerns." (Id. ¶ 70.)

Plaintiffs assert that Defendants knew, reasonably should have known, or were reckless in not knowing about the coolant tube defect but failed to disclose the defect to consumers. Defendants allegedly had or should have had this knowledge "based on, among other things, widespread customer complaints of prematurely cracking coolant tubes, dealer inquiries, repair shop inquiries, dealer-provided repair data, the high volume of replacement parts being ordered, and [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] complaints." (Id. ¶ 63.) Plaintiffs assert that, despite this alleged knowledge, Defendants promoted the Cayenne's cooling system and made misrepresentations such as " '[t]he entire cooling system is specifically designed for prolonged heavy-duty operation.' " (Id. ¶ 62(c).)

Plaintiffs also attach to their Complaint a technical bulletin that PCNA issued in February 2008 stating that "[o]n [Model Year] 2003 to [Model Year] 2006 vehicles there is a chance that the coolant pipes made from plastic may start to leak. . . . Both coolant pipes (lower and heater)

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must be replaced at the same times with new coolant pipes made from aluminum" as evidence that Defendants acknowledged the defect. (ECF No. 35-1.) Plaintiffs note that, despite acknowledging the defect, Defendants have not reimbursed Cayenne owners for the cost of replacement parts or issued any type of recall.

Plaintiffs plead a total of thirty-two claims for relief against Defendants, including one federal statutory claim and thirty-one state statutory and common law claims. Plaintiffs seek economic damages, an order enjoining Defendants from "continuing the unfair business practices alleged in this Complaint," and injunctive relief "in the form of a recall or free replacement program." (ECF No. 35, at 79.) Plaintiffs do not claim any damages for bodily injury that the alleged coolant tube defect may have caused.

PCNA filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) on January 6, 2012. (ECF No. 62.) That same day, Porsche AG filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) (ECF No. 63) and a second motion to dismiss adopting PCNA's Rule 12(b)(6) arguments (ECF No. 64). The Court is holding Porsche AG's Rule 12(b)(6) motion in abeyance until it decides the personal jurisdiction issue regarding Porsche AG. (ECF No. 67.) Thus, the Court now considers only PCNA's motion to dismiss.

II. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper if a complaint fails to state a claim upon which a court can grant relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must provide fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, and it must set forth sufficient factual allegations suggesting that the plaintiff is entitled to relief under those claims. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355

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U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A court, in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and treat all well-pleaded allegations contained therein as true. Id. at 555-56. The defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief. Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007).

Rule 8(a)(2) governs pleading standards and requires that 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). Although Rule 8 does not require "detailed factual allegations," "it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). Thus, a court need not "accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). A pleading that offers "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" will not suffice to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Id. In fact, "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Once the court has identified the well-pleaded allegations, it should view each allegation in the context of the entire complaint to determine whether a plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to support his or her claim. See In re Polyurethane Foam Antitrust Litig., 799 F. Supp. 2d 777, 782 (N.D. Ohio 2011).

Considering only those well-pleaded facts, a complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550

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U.S. at 556). A plaintiff's factual allegations must be enough to raise the claimed right to relief above the speculative level and to create a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence to support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. If the "well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct," the court should dismiss the...

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