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Johnson v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 3, 2017

MARY L. JOHNSON, a Washington resident, Plaintiff,
v.
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC., TWENTIETH-CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT LLC., MGM HOLDINGS INC., and TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY FOX INC., Delaware corporations, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         “Will the real ‘James Bond' please stand up?”[1] This case hinges on which films should and should not be included in DVD and Blu-ray box-sets of “all” James Bond films. This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (“MGM”) Studios Inc., Twentieth-Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC., MGM Holdings Inc. (“MGM Holdings”), and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.'s Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. #17. Specifically, Defendants request dismissal of Plaintiff's three claims: violation of the Washington State's Consumer Protection Act (“WCPA”), RCW § 19.86.090, breach of express warranty, and breach of implied warranty of merchantability. Dkt. #1-2 at ¶¶ 80, 82, and 88. Defendants also move to dismiss all claims against corporate parents MGM Holdings and Twenty-First Century Fox. In the alternative, Defendants move to strike class allegations. Plaintiff Mary L. Johnson opposes Defendants' Motion, arguing that she has alleged facts sufficient for the Court to find Defendants violated the WCPA, and breached an express warranty and implied warranty of merchantability. Dkt. #27.

         At this time, the Court will Live and Let Die:[2] For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendants' Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On March 17, 2016, Plaintiff, Mary L. Johnson, filed suit against Defendants, MGM Studios Inc. and Twentieth-Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC., and their respective corporate parents MGM Holdings and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., in King County Superior Court. Dkt. #1-2. Plaintiff is a Washington State resident. Id. at ¶ 2. All four Defendants are incorporated in Delaware with principal places of business in California. Id. at ¶ 48.

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants falsely represent their James Bond DVD and Blu-ray box-sets, advertising their inclusion of “all” James Bond movies. Id. at ¶ 35. Plaintiff claims two James Bond movies were omitted from Defendants' box-sets, and brought this class action on behalf of consumers in multiple states who were similarly misled. Dkt. #1-2 at 2-3. This case was removed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington on April 7, 2017. Dkt. #1.

         Defendant MGM acquired the video rights to all James Bond films produced by Eon Productions, a company based in the United Kingdom. Dkt. #1-2 at ¶¶ 14, 19. In 1997, Defendant MGM acquired the rights to the 1967 film Casino Royale and 1983 film Never Say Never Again. Id. at 2. Eon Productions did not produce these two films. Both Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again were excluded from the Defendants' box-sets. Id.

         Defendant Twentieth Century Fox distributes movies in DVD and Blu-ray formats. Id. at ¶ 16. Since 1999, Defendants MGM and Twentieth Century Fox have maintained video distribution agreements. Id. at ¶ 17. Pursuant to these agreements, Twentieth Century Fox handles all marketing and distribution of James Bond DVDs and Blu-rays for MGM. Id.

         From 2012 to 2016, Defendants released three James Bond DVD and Blu-ray box-sets for sale. Id. at 2. In 2012, Defendants released a DVD box-set entitled Bond 50, Celebrating Five Decades of Bond 007, including 22 films produced by Eon Productions. Id. at ¶ 23. In 2015, Defendants released another DVD box-set, entitled The Ultimate James Bond Collection, including 23 films. Id. at ¶ 26-27. Finally, in 2016, Defendants released a Blu-ray box-set, entitled The James Bond Collection, also including 23 films. Id. at ¶ 29. The box-sets' packaging include MGM and Twentieth Century Fox trademarks, and a small-print list of included films. The box-sets' packaging does not note the existence or omission of Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again. Id. at ¶ 34.

         MGM maintains video rights to EON Production films, as well as Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again. Id. at ¶ 40. However, only the EON films were included in the box-sets. Id. The Blu-ray Collector's Edition of Casino Royale contains both Defendants MGM and Twentieth Century Fox trademarks. Id. at ¶ 46. The Blu-ray Collector's Edition of Never Say Never Again only features Defendant Twentieth Century Fox's trademark. Id. at ¶ 43.

         The three box-sets and two Blu-rays are sold individually at “brick and mortar” stores and on Amazon.com (“Amazon”). Id. at ¶¶ 50, 52. Additionally, MGM's website offers sales through Amazon. Id. at ¶ 57. In February 2016, Plaintiff purchased one of the box-sets from Amazon for $106.44. Id. at ¶ 49. Plaintiff claims Amazon “served as intermediary in the transaction between Plaintiff and Defendants, ” and Amazon “reproduce[d] Defendants' false and misleading representations that the box-sets contain ‘all' of the James Bond movies.” Id. at ¶ 51. At the time Plaintiff filed her complaint, Amazon sold Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again for $29.99 and $39.38, respectively. Id. at ¶ 58.

         Plaintiff contends she purchased a box-set, relying on its claim to contain “[a]ll the Bond films, ” and she would not have purchased a box-set if she knew it excluded Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again. Id. at ¶ 54. Nor would she have purchased the box-set at the price she paid. Id. Plaintiff claims by excluding these two films Defendants misled her and engaged in “unfair and deceptive business practices, ” resulting in her loss of money. Id. at ¶ 51. To complete her collection of James Bond films, Plaintiff would need to spend an additional $69.37 plus tax and shipping. Id. at ¶ 59. Plaintiff claims Defendants knew or should have known that purchasers would rely on packaging statements and expect the box-sets included all the James Bond films. Id. at ¶ 62.

         On March 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint, seeking money damages from past and future profits obtained from Defendants alleged deception and unjust enrichment. Id. at ¶ 63-64. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         In making a Rule 12(b)(6) assessment, the Court accepts all facts alleged in the complaint as true, and makes all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Baker v. Riverside County Office of Educ., 584 F.3d 821, 824 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal citations omitted). However, the Court is not required to accept as true a “legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 678. This requirement is met when the plaintiff “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The Complaint must have “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Absent facial plausibility, Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed. Id. at 570.

         Where a complaint is dismissed for failure to state a claim, “leave to amend should be granted unless the court determines that the allegation of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could not possibly cure the deficiency.” Schreiber ...


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