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Muhammad v. Public Storage Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

July 24, 2014



ORTRIE D. SMITH, Senior District Judge.

Pending is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 6). The Motion is granted in part and denied in part.


The facts alleged in the state-court Petition (hereinafter "Complaint") construed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff indicate the following. This suit arises from a contractual relationship between Plaintiff Wallace Muhammad and Defendant Public Storage. On October 28, 2011, Wallace Muhammad signed a Lease/Rental Agreement (hereinafter "Agreement") for a self-storage unit at the Public Storage location at 9527 James A. Reed Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64134. Complaint, ¶ 9. The instant Motion seeks dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), but the Court can consider the Agreement because it is fairly embraced by the Complaint. See Enervations, Inc. v. Minn. Mining & Mfg. Co., 380 F.3d 1066, 1069 (8th Cir. 2004). Although the Complaint alleges that both Wallace and Edna Muhammad signed the Agreement, the Agreement only provides Wallace Muhammad's signature. Agreement, Exhibit A (Doc. # 7-1), p. 4. The Agreement lists "Wallace Muhammad" as "Occupant" and Edna Muhammad as "Occupant's Authorized Access Person." Agreement, p. 1.

Other relevant portions of the Agreement provide the following:

In the event rent shall be in default... and thereafter Occupant shall have failed to give operator written notice of an intention not to abandon the Premises and the personal property located in, on or about the Premises within fifteen (15) consecutive days after notice of nonpayment of rent has been given by Operator to Occupant... the Premises shall be deemed abandoned. Agreement § 4(b).
In the event Occupant shall change Occupant's physical address... as set forth in this Lease/Rental Agreement, Occupant shall give Owner written notice of such change signed by Occupant and specifying Occupant's current physical address... within ten (10) days of the change; such notice to be mailed to Owner by first class mail with proof of mailing. Agreement § 15(a).
[A]ny written notices or demands required or permitted to be given under the terms of this Lease/Rental Agreement may be personally served or may be served by first class mail... to the party at the address provided for in this Lease/Rental Agreement. Agreement § 15(b).

The Agreement lists the "Occupant address" as 8929 Cambridge Ave., #2706, Kansas City, Missouri 64138. Agreement, p. 1. On May 28, 2012, Edna Muhammad informed the customer service representative at Public Storage, through written notice, that Plaintiffs' address had changed to 11009 E. 51st Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64133. Complaint, ¶ 14. Edna Muhammad observed the customer service representative change her address in the computer system. Id., ¶ 15. The customer service representative further acknowledged that the address had been changed in Defendant's database. Id., ¶ 16.

Plaintiffs paid Defendant a monthly fee for the rental of the Unit, in which they stored nearly 300 personal items valued at more than $20, 000. Id., ¶ 12-13. On November 1, 2012, Plaintiffs missed the rental payment deadline. Id., ¶ 17. On December 4, 2012, and January 2, 2013, Plaintiffs made payments of $211.00. Id., ¶ 18-19. Both payments were made at the Public Storage location on 3440 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64111. Id. These payments were apparently first applied to November's and December's rent because following the January 2, 2013 payment, a balance of $161.00 remained for January 2013's rent. Id., ¶ 20.

On January 24, 2013, Defendant sold all items within the Unit. Id., ¶ 21. Plaintiffs contacted Defendant's regional managers regarding reimbursement for the items sold within the Unit, but Defendant refused. Id., ¶ 22-23. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant, through its agents, servants, and employees, failed to provide notice of default of payment to Plaintiffs' last known address pursuant to the terms of the Agreement. Plaintiffs also allege that they were never given proper notice that Defendant intended to sell the items within the Unit. Id., ¶ 24-26.

On January 31, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their state-court Petition in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. The case was removed to federal court on March 14, 2014. The Plaintiffs raise four counts in their Complaint: (1) violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act ("MMPA"); (2) breach of contract; (3) unjust enrichment; and (4) negligent misrepresentation.


The liberal pleading standard created by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Id. (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court "must accept as true all of the complaint's ...

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