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Flowers-Carter v. Braun Corporation

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 13, 2019

Latricia Flowers-Carter, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Braun Corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DOMINIC W. LANZA UNITED SLATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court are (1) Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 22) and (2) Plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a second amended complaint (Doc. 29). As explained below, the Court will deny Defendant's motion and grant Plaintiffs' motion.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         In October 2018, Plaintiffs sued Defendant in Maricopa County Superior Court. (Doc. 1-3 at 8-14.) Plaintiffs alleged they hired Defendant in December 2017 to convert their minivan into a wheelchair-accessible vehicle but the minivan repeatedly malfunctioned after it was returned to them in February 2018. (Id.) Plaintiffs further alleged that Defendant made several subsequent attempts to repair the minivan but was unable to do so. (Id.) The complaint asserted a single cause of action under “Arizona's assistive device warranty statute, A.R.S. § 44-1352, which grants consumers who purchase assistive devices[] a one-year express warranty.” (Id. at 8.) Plaintiffs alleged they suffered various categories of damages, including “severe physical and emotional distress, including hospitalization, in having to deal with Defendant's defective Conversion and Defendant's attempts to repair the same; (2) lost wages due to Plaintiffs taking time off of work to bring the vehicle to Defendant's repair facility [and] (3) pecuniary losses, including but not limited to those arising from Plaintiffs['] inability to consummate an agreement to sell their previous wheelchair van.” (Id. at 11-12.)

         On November 5, 2018, Defendant removed the action to federal court. (Doc. 1.)

         On November 12, 2018, Defendant moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). (Doc. 8.) Defendant argued that, beginning in May 2018, it made multiple offers to “replace or repurchase” Plaintiffs' vehicle, which Plaintiffs ignored “in a bad-faith attempt to fabricate [an] alleged ‘violation' of the Warranty Statute in order to seek treble damages and attorneys' fees for this fabricated ‘violation.'” (Id. at 1.) In support of this claim, Defendant provided an affidavit from Mike Smith, a Braun sales manager, who asserted (among other things) that (1) Defendant offered to replace Plaintiffs' vehicle on May 7, 2018, (2) Defendant reiterated this offer on several occasions between May 8, 2018, and June 6, 2018, and (3) “[a]t no point during contact with plaintiffs through June 6, 2018, did plaintiffs request that [Defendant] either repurchase or replace the subject vehicle. The first time [Defendant] received such a request from plaintiffs was in correspondence from plaintiffs' counsel dated June 25, 2018.” (Doc. 8-1 ¶¶ 4-8.)

         On December 3, 2018-before responding to the motion to dismiss-Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 13.) In it, Plaintiffs specifically allege they made a request for a replacement vehicle on May 1, 2018, which Defendant declined to honor. (Id. ¶¶ 33-35, 59.)[2]

         On December 28, 2018, Defendant filed an amended answer. (Doc. 21.) Defendant also attached several exhibits to its amended answer, including another affidavit from Mike Smith. (Doc. 21-1 at 22-23.) Notably, this version of the Smith affidavit differs from the previous version. Specifically, whereas the final paragraph of the old Smith affidavit provided that “[a]t no point during contact with plaintiffs through June 6, 2018, did plaintiffs request that Braun either repurchase or replace the subject vehicle. The first time Braun received such a request . . . [was] June 25, 2018” (Doc. 8-1 ¶ 8, emphasis added), the final paragraph of the new Smith affidavit provides that “Plaintiffs' counsel's June 25, 2018 repurchase demand correspondence was the first request Braun received from plaintiffs to repurchase the subject van and conversion” (Doc. 21-1 at 23 ¶ 7, emphasis added). The new version, in other words, doesn't deny that Plaintiffs made any replacement demands before June 25, 2018-it only contends that Plaintiffs' first repurchase demand was made on that date.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Motion For Judgment On The Pleadings

         A. Legal Standard

         “A [motion for] judgment on the pleadings is properly granted when, taking all the allegations in the non-moving party's pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fajardo v. County of L.A., 179 F.3d 698, 699 (9th Cir. 1998). “Not only must the court accept all material allegations in the complaint as true, but the complaint must be construed, and all doubts resolved, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” McGlinchy v. Shell Chem. Co., 845 F.2d 802, 810 (9th Cir. 1988).

         B. Parties' Arguments

         In its motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 22), Defendant argues that Plaintiffs can't prevail as a matter of law because it previously offered to replace or repurchase their vehicle. In support of this claim, Defendant points to the affidavit from ...


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