United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON PLAINTIFFS' SEVENTH CAUSE OF ACTION
MARSHA J. PECHMAN, Chief District Judge.
THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' Seventh Cause of Action - violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. (Dkt. No. 114.) Having considered the Parties' briefing and all related papers, the Court GRANTS the motion.
This putative class action seeks damages and equitable relief for purchasers of Defendant's allegedly defective Sonicare Diamond Clean, FlexCare, FlexCare, Healthy White, EasyClean, and Sonicare for Kids powered toothbrushes and related replacement parts (collectively, the "Toothbrushes"). (Dkt. Nos. 20, 90.)
The suit began when Plaintiff Amy Coe filed a class action on behalf of Toothbrush purchasers citing, among other things, breach of Washington and New Jersey state law. (Dkt. No. 1.) Approximately two months later, Plaintiffs Sam Chawla and Lance Ng filed a separate action with similar claims under Washington, Connecticut, and New York state law. Chawla v. Philips Oral Healthcare, Inc., No. 13-cv-875-MJP, Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiffs Coe, Chawla, and Ng then filed a consolidated complaint incorporating all claims. (Dkt. No. 20).
In earlier motions, the Court found Washington law inapplicable to Plaintiffs' claims, granted summary judgment for Defendant on Plaintiffs' warranty claims and Plaintiff Ng's New York claims, and dismissed Plaintiff Chawla's Connecticut claims for lack of jurisdiction. As a result, Coe is the sole remaining named Plaintiff, and violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is the sole remaining cause of action. Defendant now seeks summary judgment on this cause of action, which would end the litigation.
I. Legal Standards
A. Summary Judgment
Summary judgment is proper where "the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In assessing whether a party has met its burden, the underlying evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
B. New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
Three elements are required for a prima facie case under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("CFA"): "1) unlawful conduct by defendant; 2) an ascertainable loss by plaintiff; and 3) a causal relationship between the unlawful conduct and the ascertainable loss." Bosland v. Warnock Dodge, Inc. , 964 A.2d 741, 749 (N.J. 2009). In a misrepresentation case, "either outof-pocket loss or a demonstration of loss in value will suffice to meet the ascertainable loss hurdle and will set the stage for establishing the measure of damages." Thiedemann v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC , 872 A.2d 783, 792 (N.J. 2005).
Courts have tailored the standard CFA test when plaintiffs proceed on a benefit-of-thebargain theory: "[t]he New Jersey Supreme Court has repeatedly and explicitly endorsed a benefit-of-the-bargain theory under the Consumer Fraud Act that requires nothing more than that the consumer was misled into buying a product that was ultimately worth less to the consumer than the product he was promised." Smajlaj v. Campbell Soup Co. , 782 F.Supp.2d 84, 99 (D.N.J. 2011). "A plaintiff alleging a benefit-of-the-bargain states a claim if he or she alleges (1) a reasonable belief about the product ...