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 DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
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 for Summary
Judgment (Doc. 132). For the reasons set forth below, the
motion is GRANTED, and Plaintiff's pending Motion to
Certify Class (Doc. 134) is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
moving party is entitled to summary judgment “if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears
the initial responsibility of informing the court of the
basis for its motion, and it must identify those portions of
the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact. Torgerson v. City of Rochester,
643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011). If the movant does so,
then the nonmovant must respond by submitting evidence
demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial.
Id. A genuine issue regarding a material fact is one
“such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for
the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The court views any
factual disputes in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042. “Where the
record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of
fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine
issue for trial.” Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S
557, 585 (2009).
2009, FCA purchased assets and liabilities, including those
associated with vehicle safety recalls, from Chrysler
In August of 2010, the Office of Defects Investigation of the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(“NHTSA”) ordered a preliminary evaluation of
alleged defects in Model Year 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee
vehicles. In June of 2012, the NHTSA expanded its
investigation to include both Model Year 1993-1998 Jeep Grand
Cherokee vehicles and Model Year 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty
vehicles (collectively, the “Jeep Vehicles”).
alleged defect at issue involves the vehicles' fuel tank
design. The Jeep Vehicles are designed with fuel tanks
mounted behind the rear axle of the car. Plaintiff avers the
vehicles are designed without sufficient protection for a
fuel tank in that area and that the Jeep Vehicles perform
poorly in rear-impact collision fuel system integrity tests
when compared to peer vehicles with fuel tanks located ahead
of the rear axle.
of 2013, the NHTSA requested that FCA perform a safety recall
of the Jeep Vehicles. On June 4, 2013, and June 18, 2013, FCA
responded to the NHTSA's recall request by issuing two
press releases (the “Press Releases”) on their
website. The June 4, 2013, press release stated the Jeep
Vehicles were “safe and . . . not defective, ”
and the June 18, 2013, press release reiterated that the
vehicles were “not defective” (the “press
release statements”). FCA ultimately agreed to perform
this recall and offered to install a trailer hitch it
believed would remedy any defect. Two years later, on July 2,
2015, the NHTSA held a public hearing to gather evidence
regarding deficiencies in FCA's safety recall
performance, and later entered into a consent order requiring
FCA to perform a vehicle buyback campaign and pay a civil
August of 2013-in the midst of the NHTSA and FCA recall
efforts-Plaintiff David Faltermeier looked into purchasing a
2003 Jeep Liberty from a used car dealer, Cars Plus Credit.
While on the Cars Plus Credit lot, Plaintiff asked a salesman
four questions,  test drove the car, and purchased the
vehicle for the negotiated price of $4, 900. At the time of
purchase, Plaintiff's knowledge about his car stemmed
from two sources: the Cars Plus Credit website and his
discussions with the salesman. Plaintiff and the Cars Plus
Credit salesman never discussed the vehicle's fuel tank,
and the parties agree that the salesman did not make any
misrepresentations about the Jeep. Def.'s Br. at vi
¶ 9 (Doc. 133); Pl.'s Opp. at vi (Doc. 148).
Plaintiff did not see any of FCA's press release
statements before buying his vehicle or in the process of
buying his vehicle.
2013, Plaintiff became aware of the FCA recall efforts and
FCA's press release statements after reading third-party
news reports regarding the recall. See Faltermeier
Depo., Def.'s Ex. 1, at 57:1-21 (Doc. 133-1). Plaintiff
has never visited FCA's website, where the Press Releases
were disseminated, and testified he did not see the Press
Releases until his attorneys provided him with a draft of the
complaint filed in this matter. Id. at 191:7-199:3.
purposes of this order, the Court assumes without deciding
that the Jeep Vehicles were defective and FCA's press
release statements were false.
asserts summary judgment is proper for four
reasons. Because the Court finds that the press
release statements were not made “in connection with
the sale” of Plaintiff's ...