United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
DAVID FALTERMEIER, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
FCA U.S. LLC, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE.
a putative class action arising from alleged violations of
the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act
(“MMPA”), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.020.
Plaintiff David Faltermeier alleges that Defendant FCA U.S.
LLC (“FCA”) made misrepresentations during a
vehicle safety recall that have caused Plaintiff and all
other consumers who have purchased the recalled vehicles
since June 4, 2013, an ascertainable financial loss.
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 66) under
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For
the reasons listed below, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART.
2009, FCA purchased assets and liabilities, including those
associated with vehicle safety recalls, from Chrysler LLC,
the company that manufactured Jeeps. In August of 2010, the
Office of Defects Investigation (“ODI”) of the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(“NHTSA”) ordered a preliminary evaluation of
alleged defects in Model Year 1993-2004 Jeep Grand
Cherokee vehicles. Pl.'s First Am. Compl. (“Am.
Compl.”) ¶ 12 (Doc. 65). In June of 2012, this
investigation was expanded to include both Model Year
1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles and Model Year
2002-2007 Jeep Liberty vehicles (collectively, the
“Jeep Vehicles”). Id. In June of 2013,
the NHTSA requested that FCA perform a safety recall of the
Jeep Vehicles. See Id. ¶¶ 13, 25, 26; June
3, 2013, NHTSA Recall Letter, Am. Compl. Ex. A (Doc. 65-1).
FCA agreed to perform a safety recall of the Jeep Vehicles
and offered to install a trailer hitch to remedy the defect.
Id. ¶ 25. Over the course of the next two
years, the NHTSA criticized FCA's response to the safety
recall request. Id. ¶¶ 27-31. On July
2, 2015, the NHTSA held a public hearing to gather evidence
regarding deficiencies in FCA's safety recall
performance. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. Following this
hearing, the NHTSA entered into a consent order requiring FCA
to perform a vehicle buyback campaign and pay a $105 million
civil penalty. Id. ¶ 32.
August of 2013-in the midst of the NHTSA and FCA recall
efforts-Plaintiff David Faltermeier purchased a 2003 Jeep
Liberty for personal use from a third party for $4, 900.
Id. ¶ 5. Plaintiff maintains FCA has
consistently and affirmatively misrepresented the design,
safety, and performance of Jeep Vehicles from June 4, 2013,
to the present. Id. ¶ 33. Specifically,
Plaintiff cites to a June 4, 2013, press release and a June
18, 2013, press release (“the Press Releases”).
Id. The June 4, 2013, press release reads in
NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has
issued a recall request letter proposing that Chrysler Group
recall the Jeep Grand Cherokee in model years 1993 to 2004
and the Jeep Liberty in model years 2002 to 2007 (a total of
approximately 2.7 million vehicles).
Chrysler Group has been working and sharing data with the
Agency on this issue since September 2010. The company does
not agree with NHTSA's conclusions and does not intend to
recall the vehicles cited in the investigation. The
subject vehicles are safe and are not defective.
We believe NHTSA's initial conclusions are based on an
incomplete analysis of the underlying data, and we are
committed to continue working with the Agency to resolve this
‘The safety of drivers and passengers has long been the
first priority for Chrysler brands and that commitment
remains steadfast, ' said Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and
CEO of Chrysler Group LLC. ‘The company stands behind
the quality of its vehicles. All of us remain committed to
working with the NHTSA to provide information confirming the
safety of these vehicles.'
Chrysler Group's position on this matter is clear.
These vehicles met and exceeded all applicable requirements
of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, including
FMVSS 301, pertaining to fuel-system integrity. Our analysis
shows the incidents, which are the focus of this request,
occur less than once for every million years of vehicle
operation. This rate is similar to comparable vehicles
produced and sold during the time in question.
Chrysler Group stands behind the quality and safety of its
vehicles. It conducts voluntary recalls when they are
warranted, and in most cases, before any notice or
investigation request from NHTSA.
Am. Compl. Ex. F (Doc. 65-6 at 2) (emphasis added); Am.
Compl. ¶ 33(a).
again falsely represented the Jeep Vehicles in a June 18,
2013, press release that reads as follows:
Chrysler Group LLC and the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) have resolved their differences with
respect to NHTSA's request to recall 1993-2004 Jeep®
Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Jeep Liberty vehicles.
As a result of the agreement, Chrysler Group will conduct a
voluntary campaign with respect to the vehicles in
question that, in addition to a visual inspection of the
vehicle will, if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear
structure of the vehicle to better manage crash forces in
Chrysler Group's analysis of the data confirms that these
vehicles are not defective and are among the safest in
the peer group. Nonetheless, Chrysler Group recognizes
that this matter has raised concerns for its customers and
wants to take further steps, in coordination with the NHTSA,
to provide additional measures to supplement the safety of
Chrysler Group regards safety as a paramount concern and does
not compromise on the safety of our customers and their
Am. Compl. Ex. G. (Doc. 65-7 at 2) (emphasis added);
id. ¶¶ 33(b), 34(b).
also contends Defendant made deceptive representations
identified in an attached “white paper” prepared
by the Center for Auto Safety (“White Paper”).
Id. ¶¶ 21, 34(c)-(e), 35(a)-(c);
id. Ex. B (Doc. 65-2). This White Paper contains a
summary of responses to the NHTSA's request that
Defendant recall the Jeep Vehicles. See Id. Ex. B at
10. Plaintiff challenges several representations identified
in the White Paper, including manipulations of crash data and
misrepresentations of the proposed trailer hitch repair's
effectiveness. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 34-35;
id. Ex. B at 1-4, 10. These alleged
misrepresentations are summarized from the White Paper, and
the Amended Complaint only specifically reproduces one quote
from a former Chrysler executive regarding the trailer
hitch's ineffectiveness. See Am. Compl.
Plaintiff asserts that the alleged misrepresentations have
been widely-disseminated to the general public through the
national media. Id. ¶ 36. Several news articles
from various outlets reported FCA's position that the
vehicles were “not defective, ” “safe to