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Pietoso, Inc. v. Republic Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 15, 2020

PIETOSO, INC. d/b/a CAFE NAPOLI, Plaintiff,
v.
REPUBLIC SERVICES, INC. and ALLIED WASTE SERVICES, LLC d/b/a ALLIED WASTE SERVICES OF BRIDGETON, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 23). This matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff Pietoso, Inc. d/b/a Cafe Napoli ("Pietoso") brings this action as a putative nationwide class action for breach of contract and declaratory judgment. (First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), ECF No. 19). On or around April 26, 2011, Defendants entered into a contract ("Service Agreement") with Pietoso. (FAC, ¶¶1, 7, 21 (citing the Service Agreement at Exhibit 1)). The service charges were increased by Republic on a regular basis. (FAC, ¶46). The increases in Service Charges were presented on the invoice as authorized service charge increases. (FAC, ¶47). Pietoso argues that Defendants improperly increased the service charges without contractual authorization. (FAC, ¶¶39-86).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp., v. Twombly, 550 U.S 544, 570 (2007). A "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" will not suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Breach of Contract[2]

         The elements of a breach of contract claim under Missouri law are: '"(1) a contract between the plaintiff and the defendant; (2) rights of the plaintiff and obligations of the defendant under the contract; (3) breach of the contract by the defendant; and (4) damages suffered by the plaintiff" Teets v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 272 S.W.3d 455, 461 (Mo.Ct.App. 2008) (quoting Howe v. ALD Servs., Inc., 941 S.W.2d 645, 650 (Mo.Ct.App. 1997)). To state a claim for breach of contract, however, a plaintiff need only plead facts sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a valid contract and its breach. Brion v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 651 S.W.2d 183, 185 (Mo.Ct.App. 1983); Amburgy v. Express Scripts, Inc., 671 F.Supp.2d 1046, 1055-56 (E.D. Mo. 2009)

         The Service Agreement establishes that Allied could increase Pietoso's rate based upon increased costs incurred by Allied:

Company [Allied] may, from time to time by notice to Customer, increase the rates provided in this Agreement to adjust for any increase in: (a) disposal costs; (b) transportation costs due to a change in location of Customer or the disposal facility used by Company; (c) the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers; (d) the average weight per cubic yard of Customer's Waste Materials above the number of pounds per cubic yard upon which the rates provided in this Agreement are based as indicated on the cover page of this Agreement; or (e) Company's costs due to changes in Applicable Laws.

         Service Agreement, Rate Adjustments.

         The Service Agreement also expressly states that Allied could increase Pietoso's fees for any other reason, with Pietoso's consent: "for reasons other than those set forth above with Customer's consent, which may be evidenced verbally, in writing or by the parties actions and practices." Service Agreement, Rate Adjustments.

         Pietoso's breach of contract argument hinges on its claim that Defendants increased their service fee without Pietoso's knowledge or consent. See, e.g, Amended Complaint, ¶57 ("Plaintiff has never given its consent to any Optional Service Charge Increase, nor has Plaintiff ever given its consent to an Optional Service Charge."); Amended Complaint, ¶58 ("Plaintiff believed that the increases in the Service Charges were always Authorized Service Charge Increases when it paid its monthly invoices."); Amended Complaint, ¶59 ("Plaintiff was reasonable in its belief that the increases in the Service Charges were Authorized Service Charge Increases because the Service Agreement states that Defendants needed Plaintiffs ...


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