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Kommer v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, N.D. New York

July 28, 2017

BRANDON KOMMER, Plaintiff,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          Lawrence E. Kahn, U.S. District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Brandon Kommer commenced this putative class action against defendant Ford Motor Company pursuant to New York General Business Law (“N.Y. G.B.L.”) sections 349 and 350. Dkt. No. 1 (“Complaint”). Presently before the Court is Ford's motion to dismiss. Dkt. No. 5 (“Motion”); see also Dkt. No. 5-1 (“Memorandum”). Kommer opposes the Motion, Dkt. No. 8 (“Response”), and Ford filed a reply, Dkt. No. 9 (“Reply”). For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Ford's Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background[1]

         1. Plaintiff's Allegations

         In October 2015, Kommer purchased a 2015 Ford F-150 XLT Super Crew truck from New Country Ford in Saratoga Springs, New York. Compl. ¶ 5. Kommer decided to purchase his truck after seeing Ford's “Built Ford-Tough” advertisement on television and the Internet. Id. ¶¶ 22-25. Kommer also saw advertisements for the new redesigned Ford F-150. Id. ¶ 24.

         Soon after Kommer purchased his vehicle, however, he had problems with its doors and locks. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. Specifically, the front, rear, driver, and passenger-side doors would not latch closed and the electric locks would not open in below-freezing temperatures. Id. ¶¶ 27. Kommer claims that Ford's advertisements highlighting the F-150s durability and toughness suggest that the door handles would work in below-freezing temperatures. Id. ¶ 56. Since the door handles did not work, Kommer claims the advertisements were misleading. Id. ¶ 28.

         Kommer also alleges that Ford knew of the problem with the door handles but failed to disclose it. Id. ¶¶ 29, 34. On April 8, 2015, Ford issued a technical service bulletin (“TSB”) entitled “SUPERCAB/SUPERCREW CAB - FROZEN OR INOPERATIVE DOOR LATCH.” Id. Ex. A. The TSB recognized that the door latches on some 2015 F-150 trucks did not work in freezing temperatures, and it outlined steps dealers should take to address the problem. Id. Plaintiff's truck-a 2015 F-150 SuperCrew Cab-was listed as an affected vehicle and was also identified as eligible for repair “Under Provisions Of New Vehicle Limited Warranty Coverage.” Id. Despite issuing a TSB, Ford did not disclose the faulty door handle problem to current or potential F-150 owners. Id. ¶ 34. Kommer does not allege that he took his truck to get repaired or that it was not under warranty.

         2. Allegations Relating To Proposed Class Members

         Many of the allegations in the Complaint do not involve Plaintiff's own experience with his F-150. First, Kommer discusses a series of online advertisements from Ford's website. Id. ¶¶ 12-15. Kommer does not actually say he viewed these advertisements. Id. Kommer also identifies several comments posted in online forums where consumers complained about door handles getting stuck and not opening or unlocking in sub-freezing temperatures. Id. ¶¶ 17-21. Additionally, Kommer discusses a second TSB Ford issued on November 18, 2016. Id. Ex. B. This TSB replaced the initial TSB addressing the inoperative door latches in F-150 trucks. Id. While the first TSB covered only 2015 F-150s built before March 25, 2015, the second TSB covered all F-150 models from 2015 to 2017. Id. The second TSB also listed Plaintiff's car-a 2015 F-150 SuperCrew Cab-as eligible for repair “Under Provisions Of New Vehicle Limited Warranty Coverage.” Id.

         Kommer alleges that the TSBs did not address the faulty door handle problem and that consumers continued to experience problems with their door latches. Id. ¶ 43. In support of this allegation, he points to a consumer who complained in an online forum that he took his truck to the dealer for repairs and the dealer failed to fix the problem. Id. ¶ 44.

         B. Procedural Background

         Kommer filed his Complaint against Ford on March 13, 2017, alleging violations of N.Y. G.B.L. sections 349 and 350. Id. ¶¶ 55-66. He brings forwards two claims: (1) Ford's “Built Ford-Tough” advertising was an affirmative misrepresentation and (2) Ford failed to disclose to consumer that the F-150 had defective door handles. Kommer also seeks to represent “himself and a class of similarly-situated New York consumers who are current or former owners or lessees of Ford F-150 vehicles for model years 2015-2017.” Id. ΒΆ 1. On April 12, 2017, Ford moved to dismiss Kommer's Complaint for failure to state a claim. Mem. at 9. Ford argues that Kommer has failed to state a claim under N.Y. G.B.L. sections 340 ...


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