Blaszkowski et al v. Mars Inc. et al

Filing 209

MOTION to Dismiss 156 Amended Complaint, by Pet Supplies "Plus", Pet Supplies Plus/USA Inc.. Responses due by 10/4/2007 (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A# 2 Text of Proposed Order)(Salup, Carlos)

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Blaszkowski et al v. Mars Inc. et al Doc. 209 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 1 of 12 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA MIAMI DIVISION CASE NO. 07-21221-CIV-ALTONAGA/TURNOFF RENEE BLASZKOWSKI, AMY HOLLUB, and PATRICIA DAVIS, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, vs. MARS, INC., et al., Defendants. / DEFENDANTS', PET SUPPLIES "PLUS" AND PET SUPPLIES PLUS/USA, INC., MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS' CORRECTED AMENDED CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT COME NOW, Defendants, PET SUPPLIES "PLUS" (hereinafter "PLUS") and PET SUPPLIES PLUS/USA, INC. (hereinafter "USA")1, specially appearing for the limited purpose of this Motion and without submitting to the jurisdiction or venue of this Court, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), (2), (4), (5), and (6), by and through their undersigned counsel, hereby file the instant Motion to Dismiss the Plaintiffs' Corrected Amended Complaint and as grounds therefore state as follows: 1 The Plaintiffs' have incorrectly stated USA's registered corporate name as it is PET SUPPLIES "PLUS"/USA, INC. Dockets.Justia.com Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 2 of 12 I. Introduction As more fully described in Defendants' Omnibus Motion to Dismiss2, the Plaintiffs' Corrected Amended Complaint ("Complaint") categorically splinters the pet food industry in the United States into: (1) Manufacturers; (2) Co-Packers; (3) Retailers; and, (4) Specialty Retailers. (D.E. 156 at 26- 51). To that end, the Plaintiffs have lumped PLUS and USA into their alleged "specialty retailers" group referenced throughout the Complaint. Id. at 51. Based on the bare allegations made in Plaintiffs' Complaint, dismissal of their claims against PLUS and USA is warranted. II. The Plaintiffs' Complaint Is Facially Defective As It Fails To State Claims Against USA In Violation Of Federal Rules Of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) & 8(a). First, as a threshold matter, the Plaintiff's Complaint utterly fails to state a cause of action against USA pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 8(a).3 Specifically, USA is last identified in the Complaint in paragraph 51 - before any substantive allegations are asserted wherein it states: 51. Defendant, Pet Supplies "Plus" ("Pet Supplies Plus"), is a Michigan corporation with its principal place of business in Michigan and Pet Supplies Plus/USA Inc. is a Michigan corporation with its principal place of business in Michigan. Pet Supplies4 is in the business of advertising, distributing, selling and making recommendations to consumers regarding dog and/or cat food. Pet 2 Defendants' Omnibus Motion to Dismiss is adopted and incorporated by reference herein. 3 For sake of brevity, all legal citations set forth in Defendants' Omnibus Motion pertaining to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and 8(a) are incorporated and adopted herein. 4 Plaintiffs fail to identify whether "Pet Supplies" as set forth therein pertains to USA or PET SUPPLIES "PLUS". 2 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 3 of 12 Supplies Plus markets, sells and makes recommendations to consumers regarding pet food at issue in Michigan and other states. Pet Supplies Plus adopts the marketing representations of the Defendant Manufacturers' by placing point of purchase marketing materials near the Defendant Manufacturers' pet food in its retail stores. Pet Supplies markets and advertises the Defendant Manufacturers' commercial pet food products with the intent to induce consumers to purchase these products. (D.E. 156 at 51). [Emphasis Added.] Thereafter, the Complaint never again refers to USA (the party listed in the caption and in paragraph 51) and, of course, is not identified as a party which allegedly committed any wrongdoing. As such, this Court should consider the Plaintiffs' failure to state a claim against USA, after its introduction in paragraph 51 of the Complaint, as an independent basis for dismissal. Specifically, the Plaintiffs have not alleged any facts against USA that would give rise to any discernable legal cause of action. Notwithstanding the Plaintiffs blatant failure to state a claim against USA, their inclusion of USA into the remaining blanket allegations against "specialty retailers" also fails. Specifically, USA is in the business of granting franchises for the right to operate retail pet food and supply stores under the trade name: Pet Supplies "Plus". (Affidavit of Harvey Solway attached hereto and marked as Exhibit "A"). To be clear, USA is not a retail seller of pet products nor does it operate any Pet Supplies "Plus" licensed franchisees. Id. Instead, all Pet Supplies "Plus" stores operating in the United States are independently owned and registered through corporations within the state they are located in. Id. Therefore, assuming arguendo that this Court finds the Plaintiffs blanket allegations against "specialty retailers" in the Complaint to be legally sufficient, USA should be granted the relief requested herein as it does not fall within the definition of a "specialty retailer" as 3 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 4 of 12 advanced in the Complaint and because the Plaintiffs have clearly failed to state claims upon which relief can be granted against USA as a franchiser. To that end, it is axiomatic that since USA is only a franchiser and not a retail seller of pet products, any and all allegations in the Plaintiffs Complaint against USA (should the Court find any to be legally sufficient) fail as the Plaintiffs do not state a cause of action against it as a franchiser. II. The Plaintiffs' Complaint Fails To State A Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted Against PLUS As It Is Nothing More Than A Trade Name. Unlike the sole reference to USA, the Plaintiffs' Complaint does assert allegations against PLUS. (D.E. 156 at 51, 97, 166 and 167). However, the Plaintiffs' allegations can not, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (b)(6)5, stand as pled as PLUS is nothing more than a trade name. (See Exhibit A.) Specifically, PLUS is not a corporate entity and is solely a trade name licensed for use by USA's franchisees. Id. Accordingly, this Court should dismiss PLUS as a party to this action by virtue of its non-existence and inability to afford relief to the Plaintiffs for any allegations advanced against it - which clearly a trade name could not have performed. This defect too is fatal and requires dismissal with prejudice. IV. Pursuant To Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), This Court Should Dismiss The Plaintiffs' Complaint Against USA & PLUS With Prejudice As No Attempt Was Made In The Complaint To Assert Personal Jurisdiction Over Either USA or PLUS. As described more fully above, the Plaintiffs made one material reference to USA in the entire Complaint and numerous allegations against PLUS - all of which are insufficient to overcome dismissal. However, the Plaintiffs' pleading is all fatally deficient in that it fails to make a prima 5 Similarly, this Court is also without subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), over PLUS as it has no citizenship recognizable under the laws of any state. Moreover, the Plaintiffs process and service of process on a non-existent entity by definition is defective and subject to dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(4) and (5). 4 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 5 of 12 facie case for personal jurisdiction over either USA or PLUS. While well-settled law in this jurisdiction imposes a burden on the Plaintiff to plead sufficient material facts to establish the basis for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident, the Plaintiffs have not overcome their burden.6 Instead, a plain reading of paragraph 51 of the Complaint demonstrates that the Plaintiffs did not so much as make an attempt to carry the burden imposed by law. Specifically, the only material fact pled by the Plaintiffs concerning personal jurisdiction states, "Pet Supplies Plus markets, sells and makes recommendations to consumers regarding the commercial pet food at issue in its retail stores in Michigan and other states." (D.E. 156 at 51). [Emphasis Added]. Importantly, the sole jurisdictional allegation pertains only to Defendant, PLUS. Accordingly, under similar analysis discussed in Section II, supra, the Plaintiffs have utterly failed to make any allegation (jurisdictional or otherwise) against USA. Therefore, USA should be dismissed as a party for lack of personal jurisdiction as a threshold issue. Here, as with their failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Plaintiffs fail to make a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction over USA and, thus, no further Florida long-arm statue (F.S. 48.193) and/or Due Process inquiry is required by this Court. Simply stated, the Plaintiffs have remained silent as to personal jurisdiction over USA and under well settled law their silence warrants dismissal with prejudice. 6 For the Court's convenience, USA adopts and incorporates all legal authority cited in Defendant, The Kroger Co.'s Motion to Dismiss (D.E. 197) by reference herein with special emphasis on the case law authority cited in pages 2 - 6 therein. 5 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 6 of 12 Additionally, the Plaintiffs sole jurisdictional allegation, directed only at PLUS, also fails to meet the prima facie burden imposed by law. Specifically, the Plaintiffs do not plead a single material fact to establish a prima facie case as to how any of PLUS' alleged conduct and/or activity in Michigan supports personal jurisdiction in Florida. Here, without passing on the fact that PLUS is solely a trade name incapable of the conduct alleged, the Complaint is again fatally defective. Accordingly, this Court need not conduct further analysis under Florida's long-arm statute (F.S. 48.193) and, thereafter, Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth (14th) Amendment as the Plaintiffs bare allegation render the Complaint subject to dismissal with prejudice. V. Conclusion Based on the foregoing, PLUS and USA respectfully move this Court to dismiss the Plaintiffs' Complaint against them with prejudice. 6 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 7 of 12 Dated: September 20, 2007 Miami, Florida Respectfully submitted, s/ Carlos B. Salup RALPH G. PATINO Florida Bar No.768881 rpatino@patinolaw.com DOMINICK V. TAMARAZZO Florida Bar No. 92835 dtamarazzo@patinolaw.com CARLOS B. SALUP Florida Bar No. 26952 csalup@patinolaw.com PATINO & ASSOCIATES, P.A. 225 Alcazar Avenue Coral Gables, Florida 33134 (305) 443 - 6163 (305) 443 - 5635 Attorneys for Co-Defendant PET SUPPLIES "PLUS" and PET SUPPLIES "PLUS"/USA, INC. 7 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 8 of 12 CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE I HEREBY CERTIFY that on September 20, 2007, I electronically filed the foregoing document with the Clerk of the Court using CM/ECF. I also certify that this document is being served this day on to all counsels on the attached service list via transmission of Notices of Electronic Filing generated by CM/ECF. s/ Carlos B. Salup 8 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 9 of 12 SERVICE LIST CASE No. 07-21221-CIV-ALTONAGA/TURNOFF Counsel for Plaintiffs: Catherine J. Macivor cmacivor@mflegal.com Jeffrey B. Maltzman jmaltzman@mflegal.com Jeffrey E. Foreman jforeman@mflegal.com Daren W. Fridman Maltzman Foreman, P.A. One Biscayne Tower 2 South Biscayne Blvd, Suite 2300 Miami, Florida 33131 Tel.: (305)358-6555 Fax.: (305)374-9077 Counsel for Co-Defendant Target Corp: Marc C. Goodman, Esq mgoodman@ssd.com John B.T. Murray, Esq. jbmurray@ssd.com Squire Sanders & Dempsey, LLP 1900 Phillips Point West 777 S. Flagler Drive West Palm Beach, Florida 33401-6198 Tel.: (561)650-7200 Fax.: (561)655-1509 Counsel for Co-Defendant Proctor & Gamble Co: Alan Graham Greer agreer@richmangreer.com Richman Greer Weil Brumbaugh Mirabito & Christensen 201 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 1000 Miami, Florida 33131 Tel.: (305)373-4010 Fax.: (305)373-4099 Counsel for Co-Defendant Mars: Philip A. Sechler psechler@wc.com Thomas G. Hentoff thentonff@wc.com Dane H. Butswinkas dbutswinkas@wc.com Christopher M. D'Angelo cdeangelo@wc.com Patrick J. Houlihan phoulihan@wc.com Williams & Conolly LLP 725 12th Street, N.W. Washigton, D.C. 20005 Tel.: (202)434-5459 Fax.: (202)434-5029 Counsel for Co-Defendant Mars, Inc.: Omar Ortega, Esq. oortega@dortaandortega.com Dorta & Ortega, P.A. Douglas Entrance 800 South Douglas Road, Suite 149 Coral Gables, Florida 33134 Tel.: (305)461-5454 Fax.: (305)461-5226 Counsel for Co-Defendant Colgate Palmolive Co.: John J. Kuster, Esq. jkuster@sidley.com James D. Arden jarden@sidley.com Sidley Austin LLP 787 Seventh Avenue New York, NY 10019 Tel.: (212)839-7336 Fax.: (212)839-5599 9 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 10 of 12 Counsel for Co-Defendant Proctor & Gamble Co.: D. Jeffrey Ireland djireland@ficlaw.com Brian D. Wright bwright@ficlaw.com lsamon@ficlaw.com Faruki Ireland & Cox P.L.L. 500 Courthouse Plaza, S.W. 10 North Ludlow Street Dayton, OH 45402 Tel.: (937)227-3710 Fax.: (937)227-3717 Counsel for Co-Defendant Del Monte Foods, Co.: Sherril M. Colombo, Esq. scolombo@cozen.com Cozen O'Connor 200 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 4410 Miami, Florida 33131-2303 Tel.: (305)704-5945 Fax.: (305)704-5955 Co-Counsel Co-Defendant Del Monte Foods, Co.: John J. McDonough, Esq. jmcdonough@cozen.com Richard Fama, Esq. rfama@cozen.com Cozen O'Connor 45 Broadway New York, NY 10006 Tel.: (212)509-9400 Fax.: (212)509-9492 Co-Counsel for Co-Defendant, Del Monte Foods, Co. John F. Mullen, Esq. jmullen@cozen.com Cozen O'Connor The Atrium-3rd Floor 1900 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 Tel.:(215)665-2179 Fax.: (215)665-2013 C o uns e l for Co-Defendant, Palmolive Co.: Olga M. Vieira ovieira@carltonfields.com Benjamine Reid, Esq. breid@carltonfields.com Carlton Fields, P.A. 100 SE 2nd Street, Suite 4000 Miami, Florida 33131 Tel.: (305)530-0050 Fax.: (305)530-0055 Colgate Co-Counsel for Co-Defendant, Colgate Palmolive Co.: Kara L. McCall, Esq. kmcall@sidley.com Sidley Austin, LLP One South Dearborn Chicago, IL 60603 Tel.: (312)853-2666 Fax.: (312)853-7036 Counsel for Co-Defendant Nestle U.S.A., Inc. Robert C. Troyer, Esq. retroyer@hhlaw.com Hogan & Hartson LLP one Tabor Center, Suite 1500 1200 Seventeenth Street Denver, CO 80202 Tel.: (303)899-7300 Fax.: (303)899-7333 Counsel for Nestle U.S.A., Inc. Miranda L. Berge, Esq. mlberge@hhlaw.com Craig A. Hoover, Esq. cahoover@hhlaw.com Hogan & Hartson, LLP 555 13th Street, NW Washington, DC 20004 Tel.: (202)637-5600 Fax.: (202)637-5910 10 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 11 of 12 Co-Counsel for Co-Defendant Nutro Products, Inc. Charles Abbott cabbott@gibsondunn.com Ben Broderick broderick@gibsondunn.com Gary L. Justice gjustice@gibsondunn.com William Edward Wegner wwegner@gibsondunn.com Gail E. Lees gless@gibsondunn.com Gibson Dunn & Crutcher L.L.P. 333 S. Grand Avenue, Suite 4600 Los Angeles, CA 90071 Tel.: (213)229-7887 Fax.: (213)229-6887 Counsel for Co-Defendant Nutro Products, Inc. Marty Steinberg msteinberg@hunton.com Adriana Riviere-Badell ariviere-badell@hunton.com Hunton & Williams, LLP 1111 Brickell Avenue, #2500 Miami, Florida 33131 Tel.:(305)810-2500 Fax.: (305)810-2460 Counsel for Co-Defendants, Petco Animal Supplies, Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. John B. T. Murray, Jr. jbmurray@ssd.com Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP 1900 Philips Point West 777 South Flagler Drive, # 1900 West Palm Beach, Florida 33401 Tel.(561)650-7200 Fax.: (561)655-1509 Counsel for Co- Defendants, Nestle U.S.A., Inc. Carol A. Licko calicko@hhlaw.com Hogan & Hartson, LLP Mellon Financial Center 1111 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1900 Miami, Florida 33131 Tel.: (305)459-6500 Fax.: (305)459-6550 C o u n s e l for Co-Defendant, Publix Supermarket: Hugh J. Turner Jr. hugh.turner@akerman.com Akerman Senterfitt & Edison Las Olas Centre II, Suite 1600 350 East Las Olas Blvd. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33301-2229 Tel.:(954)463-2700 Fax.: (954)463-2224 C o u n s e l f o r Co-De f e n d a n t , Supermarket, Inc. Rolando Andres Diaz rd@kubickidraper.com Maria Kayanan me@kubickidraper.com Cassidy Yen Dang cyd@kubickidraper.com Kubicki Draper, P.A. 25 West Flagler Street, Penthouse Miami, Florida 33130 Tel.:(305)982-6722. Fax.: (305)374-7846 Pe t Counsel for Co-Defendant, Petco Animal Supplies, Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Robin Lea Hanger rjhanger@ssd.com Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, LLP 200 S. Biscayne Boulevard, 40th Floor Miami, Florida 331-2398 Tel.: (305)577-7040 Fax.: (305)577-7001 11 Case 1:07-cv-21221-CMA Document 209 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/20/2007 Page 12 of 12 Counsel for Co-Defendant, Menu Foods Income Fund and Menu Foods, Inc.: Alexander Shaknes alex.shaknes@dlapier.com Amy W. Schulman amy.schulman@dlapier.com DLA Piper US LLP 1251 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020-1104 Tel.: (212)335-4829 Fax.: (212)884-8629 Co-Counsel for Co-Defendant, Menu Foods Income Fund and Menu Foods, Inc: William C. Martin william.martin@dlapiper.com DLA Piper US LLP 203 North LaSalle Street, # 1900 Chicago, IL 60601-1293 Tel.: (312)368-3449 Fax.: (312)630-7318 Co-Counsel for Co-Defendant, Menu Foods Income Fund and Menu Foods, Inc. Lonnie L. Simpson lonnie.simpson@dlapier.com S. Douglas Knox sdouglas.knox@dlapier.com DLA Piper US LLP 101 E. Kennedy Blvd, # 2000 Tampa, Florida 33602 Tel.: (813)229-2111 Fax.: (813)229-1447 Counsel for Co-Defendant, Petsmart, Inc. Susan Elizabeth Mortensen smortensen@coffeyburlington.com Coffey Burlington 2699 S. Bayshore Drive, Penthouse Miami, Florida 33133 Tel.: (305)858-2900 Fax.: (305)858-5261 Co-Counsel for Co-Defendant, Petsmart, Inc. Michael K. Kennedy mkk@gknet.com Michael R. Ross mrr@gknet.com Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A. 2575 E. Camelback Road, #1100 Phoenix, Arizona 85016 Tel.: (602)530-8504 Fax.: (602)530-8500 Counsel for Co-Dendant, The Kroger Company.: C. Richard Fulmer, Jr., Esq. Fulmer Leroy Albee Baumann & Glass, PLC. 2866 East Oakland Park Blvd Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33306 Tel.: (954)707-4430 Fax.: (954)707-4431 12

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