Mizera v. Google

Filing 9

MOTION to Dismiss filed by Google Inc.,. Motion Hearing set for 10/26/2005 09:30 AM in Courtroom #4, 5th Floor, San Jose. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Durie, Daralyn) (Filed on 9/20/2005)

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Mizera v. Google Doc. 9 Case 5:05-cv-02885-RMW Document 9 Filed 09/20/2005 Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 KEKER & VAN NEST, LLP DARALYN J. DURIE - #169825 CLEMENT S. ROBERTS - #209203 RYAN M. KENT - #220441 710 Sansome Street San Francisco, CA 94111-1704 Telephone: (415) 391-5400 Facsimile: (415) 397-7188 Attorneys for Defendant GOOGLE, INC. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN JOSE DIVISION STEVE MIZERA, An Individual, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. GOOGLE, INC., a Delaware corporation, and DOES 1 through 100, Inclusive, Defendants. Case No. C 05-02885 RS E-FILING GOOGLE, INC.'S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO DISMISS AND MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO DISMISS Date: Time: Judge: October 26, 2005 9:30 a.m. Hon. Richard Seeborg July 17, 2005 Date Comp. Filed: 357797.02 GOOGLE, INC.'S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO DISMISS AND MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO DISMISS CASE NO. C 05-02885 RS Dockets.Justia.com Case 5:05-cv-02885-RMW Document 9 Filed 09/20/2005 Page 2 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO DISMISS TO ALL PARTIES AND THEIR ATTORNEYS OF RECORD: PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that on October 26, 2005, at 9:30 a.m. or as soon thereafter as this matter may be heard before the Honorable Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 280 South First Street, San Jose, California, Defendant Google, Inc. ("Google"), will and hereby does move the Court to dismiss plaintiffs' claim for unjust enrichment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), on the ground that plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. This motion is supported by the following memorandum of points and authorities, the arguments of counsel, and any other matters properly before the Court. MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES I. INTRODUCTION This Court should dismiss plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim. Plaintiff brought suit against Google premised on a single allegation--that Google overcharged for pay-per-click advertising by failing to discover and discount for internet users who viewed plaintiff's advertisements with an ill intent and with no intention of doing business with the plaintiff. Based on that allegation, plaintiff asserted three causes of action: breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and unfair business practices. Taking the facts pled by plaintiff as true, however, the law bars any unjust enrichment claim. An unjust enrichment claim implies contractual rights where no contract exists. But where, as here, an actual contract exists and governs a particular dispute, the court need not and cannot imply a contract under Ninth Circuit law. Here, plaintiff alleges that the parties entered into a legally binding contract that governs the parties' respective rights, including what advertisers should be charged. Plaintiff cannot avoid those contractual provisions it does not like by attempting to bring a claim for unjust enrichment. Further, plaintiff cannot plead, even in the alternative, that there is no legally binding contract that governs the parties' respective rights. Rule 11 requires a plaintiff to have a good faith basis for allegations made in its pleadings. Here, plaintiff knows that each and every 1 GOOGLE, INC.'S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO DISMISS AND MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO DISMISS CASE NO. C 05-02885 RS 357797.02 Case 5:05-cv-02885-RMW Document 9 Filed 09/20/2005 Page 3 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 advertiser through Google's programs signs a contract with Google--a contract that governs what those advertisers will or will not be charged. Therefore, any amendment would be futile, and this Court should dismiss plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim without leave to amend. Indeed, faced with a carbon-copy complaint Judge Whyte did exactly that in the other classaction complaint filed against Google by the plaintiff's attorney.1 II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND This case is premised on the allegation that Google, Inc. ("Google") overcharged for payper-click advertising by failing to discover and discount for internet users who viewed plaintiff's advertisements with an ill intent and with no intention of doing business with the advertiser. See Plaintiff's Class Action Complaint ("Complaint") 21, 44, 48, 51. Pay-per-click advertising, as defined by plaintiff, is a system where advertisers pay an internet search company, such as Google, to post advertising links on the margins of a web page. Compl. 15-19. In pay-perclick advertising, an advertiser does not pay a flat fee; rather, the advertiser pays each time someone clicks on the advertiser's ad. Compl. 18. The complaint alleges that some viewers click on ads "with an ill intent and with no intention of doing business with the advertiser." Compl. 21. Plaintiff defines such clicks as "fraudulent," Compl. 21, and asserts that the advertiser should not be charged for such clicks. Compl. 44, 48, 51. On that basis, plaintiff alleges three causes of action--breach of contract, unjust enrichment and unfair business practices. Id. The Complaint fails to explain how Google is supposed to derive that a particular click was made with "an ill intent." III. ARGUMENT Google moves this Court to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because plaintiff has failed to state a claim for unjust enrichment. Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), dismissal is appropriate where there is no "cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable legal theory." See Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). In making that determination, the court should accept as "true all material allegations In that case,--Click Defense Inc. v. Google, Inc., Case No. C 05 02579 RMW--Judge Whyte dismissed the unjust enrichment cause of action on September 14, 2005. 2 GOOGLE, INC.'S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO DISMISS AND MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO DISMISS CASE NO. C 05-02885 RS 1 357797.02 Case 5:05-cv-02885-RMW Document 9 Filed 09/20/2005 Page 4 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 of the complaint, along with all reasonable inferences therein." Id. at 732. California law precludes a plaintiff from asserting an implied contact cause of action where an express contract defines the rights of the parties. As the Ninth Circuit explained, "[u]nder both California and New York law, unjust enrichment is an action in quasi-contract, which does not lie when an enforceable, binding agreement exists defining the rights of the parties." Paracor Finance, Inc. v. General Elec. Capital Corp., 96 F.3d 1151, 1167 (9th Cir. 1996). Indeed, "`[t]here cannot be a valid, express contract and an implied contract, each embracing the same subject matter, existing at the same time.'" Berkla v. Corel Corp., 302 F.3d 909, 918 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Wal-Noon Corp. v. Hill, 45 Cal. App. 3d 605 (1975)); see also Hedging Concepts, Inc. v. First Alliance Mortgage Co., 41 Cal. App. 4th 1410 (1996); Gerlinger v. Amazon.Com, Inc., 311 F. Supp. 2d 838, 856 (N.D. Cal. 2004); Am. Jur. 2d Restitution and Implied Contracts 24 (2005). Here, plaintiff alleges that the parties entered into a legally binding contract that governs the parties' respective rights, including what advertisers should be charged. See Compl. 44. Indeed, plaintiff alleges that "[e]very member of the Class is a party to the AdWords Program Terms," Compl. 37, and that Google breached those contracts with "by collecting fees from plaintiff and the [purported] Class for click fraud even though Google knew . . . that the clicks were not `actual click' but rather purposeful clicks made for an improper purpose." Compl. 44. And, nowhere has plaintiff pled in the alternative that a contract does not governs the parties' respective rights. Therefore, plaintiff's unjust enrichment cause of action fails to state a claim. This Court should dismiss plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim without leave to amend. A district court may deny leave to amend where an amendment would be futile. See McQuillion v. Schwarzenegger, 369 F.3d 1091, 1099 (9th Cir. 2004). Rule 11 governs all statements made in pleadings, even when pled in the alternative. See Rule 8(e)(2). Plaintiff has no possible goodfaith basis for denying that explicit contracts govern its as well as each and every putative class members' rights regarding what they will or will not be charged. Because those contracts preclude any unjust enrichment claim, any amendment would be futile. 3 357797.02 GOOGLE, INC.'S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO DISMISS AND MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO DISMISS CASE NO. C 05-02885 RS Case 5:05-cv-02885-RMW Document 9 Filed 09/20/2005 Page 5 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 IV. CONCLUSION For the above stated reasons, Google respectfully requests that the Court dismiss plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim. Dated: September 20, 2005 KEKER & VAN NEST, LLP By: /s/ DARALYN J. DURIE DARALYN J. DURIE Attorneys for Defendant GOOGLE, INC. 4 357797.02 GOOGLE, INC.'S NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO DISMISS AND MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO DISMISS CASE NO. C 05-02885 RS

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