J-Bob LLC et al v. Mikes Garage/Larocca Towing
OPINION and ORDER Granting 10 MOTION to Dismiss. Signed by District Judge Sean F. Cox. (JMcC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
J-Bob LLC, et al.,
Civil Case No. 16-12745
Mike’s Garage / Larocca’s Towing, LLC,
Sean F. Cox
United States District Court Judge
OPINION & ORDER
GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS
Plaintiffs filed this action against the Defendant towing company, after Defendant
acquired title to a motorhome under Michigan’s abandoned vehicle statute. The matter is
currently before the Court on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. The Court finds that the issues
have been adequately presented in the parties’ briefs and that oral argument would not aid the
decisional process. See Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan.
The Court therefore orders that the motion will be decided upon the briefs. As explained below,
the Court shall GRANT the motion because Plaintiffs do not state a claim for conversion,
replevin, fraud, or abuse of process under Michigan law because the remedies under the statute
at issue “are the exclusive remedies for the disposition of abandoned vehicles.” Mich. Comp.
Laws § 257.252e(4).
On July 25, 2016, Plaintiffs J-Bob LLC (“J-Bob”) and Patricia Mehall (“Mehall”)
(collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against Defendant Mike’s Garage/Larocca Towing,
LLC (“Defendant”), asserting diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff’s Complaint asserts four different
state-law claims (conversion, replevin, fraud, and abuse of process), which are all based upon
Defendant having acquired title to a motorhome under Michigan’s abandoned vehicle statute.
The matter is currently before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant, pursuant to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) (lack of subject
When ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the court must
construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all the well-pleaded
factual allegations as true. Evans-Marshall v. Board of Educ., 428 F.3d 223, 228 (6th Cir. 2005).
Although a heightened fact pleading of specifics is not required, the plaintiff must bring forth
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). For purposes of this motion, the Court may consider: 1) documents
referenced in, or attached to, the complaint and central to the plaintiff’s claims; 2) matters of
which a court may properly take notice; and 3) public documents and records. Devlin v. Kalm,
531 F. App’x 697, 703 (6th Cir. 2013); Costell v. Bank of New York Mellon, 2013 WL 317746
(E.D. Mich. 2013); Meyer v. Citimortgage, Inc., 2012 WL 511995 (E.D. Mich. 2012).
Here, Plaintiffs’ Complaint and Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss attach documents that are
critical to a proper understanding of Plaintiffs’ claims.
Patricia Mehall is the sole owner of J-Bob. (Compl. at ¶ 2). On July 30, 2014, Mehall
and her husband were operating a motorhome in Monroe, Michigan, when the motorhome was
involved in a motor vehicle accident. (Compl. at ¶ 8; Ex. 2 to Def.’s Motion, State of Michigan
Traffic Crash Report). At that time, J-Bob alone held title to the motorhome. (Compl. at ¶¶ 8-9;
see also Ex. A to Compl., Certificate of Title, issued in J-Bob’s name alone, on December 6,
The accident caused significant damage to the motorhome, requiring that it be towed
from the accident scene. (Compl. at ¶ 8; Ex. 2 to Def.’s Motion, State of Michigan Traffic Crash
Report). It is undisputed that Defendant towed the motorhome and later took it to a storage yard
owned by Defendant. (Id.; Compl. at ¶¶ 10-11).
The Monroe County Sheriff Department later notified the Michigan Secretary of State,
through LEIN, that the motorhome was abandoned. (See Exs. 3 & 4 to Def.’s Motion). The
Secretary of State sent a “Notice Of Abandoned Vehicle” to J-Bob on September 7, 2015, stating
that the motorhome had been taken into custody on July 30, 2014, and was being held in custody
at Defendant’s premises. (Ex. 4 to Def.’s Motion). That notice stated, in pertinent part:
Our records indicate that you are the titled owner of the vehicle listed below.
This is to notify you and any secured party on record that this vehicle was taken
into custody as an abandoned vehicle by the law enforcement agency listed
Unless this is an unregistered, abandoned, scrap vehicle, you have 20 days from
the date of this notice to redeem it by paying the fees and accrued charges to the
custodian of the vehicle. The vehicle may be sold at public auction after 20 days.
You may also contest that this vehicle was properly deemed abandoned, removed,
or the reasonableness of the towing and daily storage fees by completing the
enclosed petition to request a hearing with the court listed above. The petition
must be filed with the court by mail or in person within 20 days of the date of this
notice. Please refer to the back of this form and the enclosed petition for more
WARNING: If you do not redeem an abandoned vehicle or request a hearing
within 20 days of the date of this notice, the law enforcement agency may transfer
ownership of the vehicle and terminate all rights of the owner and any secured
parties to the vehicle or to the proceeds of the vehicle sale.
(Ex. 4 to Def.’s Motion).
Plaintiffs do not claim to have filed any petitions in state court relating to the motorhome
at issue in this case.
On January 27, 2016, the State of Michigan issued a title certificate to the motorhome to
Defendant. (Ex. 5 to Def.’s Motion).
On July 25, 2016, Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendant in federal court. Plaintiffs
allege that the motorhome sustained some additional front-end damage, as a result of the towing
process. (Compl. at ¶ 10). Plaintiffs allege that, on some unspecified date after the accident, a
person who identified himself as “Mike” told Mehall that the motorhome “could be stored with
the defendant for an extended period of time at no cost.” (Compl. at ¶ 12). Plaintiffs allege that,
on some unspecified date later, Mehall contacted Defendant and told that she had a storage bill
in the amount of $27,666.00. (Compl. at ¶ 13). Plaintiffs allege that at some later unspecified
date, they learned that Defendant “had effectuated an ‘Abandoned Vehicle’ sale, and that the title
to the Motorhome had been transferred to the Defendant.” (Compl. at ¶ 14).
Plaintiff’s Complaint asserts the following state-law claims against Defendant: 1)
Conversion (Count I); 2) Replevin (Count II); 3) Fraud (Count III); and 4) Abuse of Process
(Count IV). Defendant responded by filing the instant Motion to Dismiss.
Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss contends that this action must be dismissed on several
different grounds. First, Defendant contends that to the extent that Plaintiffs are attempting to
assert any kind of claim under Michigan’s Abandoned Vehicle Statute in this action, this Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction over such claims because the statute expressly provides that
such claims must be brought exclusively in state court. Second, Defendant contends that
Plaintiffs’ Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted in any event because,
pursuant to the statute, Plaintiffs’ exclusive remedies for the disposition of the motorhome are as
provided in the statute and, therefore, under Michigan law, Plaintiffs’ cannot circumvent the
statute by asserting conversion, replevin, fraud, or abuse of process claims. Finally, Defendant
also notes that because Mehall has not alleged that she ever owned the motorhome at issue,
Mehall lacks standing to bring the claims asserted in this action.
In responding to the motion, Plaintiffs focus exclusively on Defendant’s first argument –
that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because only district or municipal state courts
can hear claims under the statute. But crucially, Plaintiffs’ response notes that Plaintiffs are not
asserting a claim under the statute in this case. Rather, “[t]his action is about conversion,
replevin, fraud and abuse of process, and not the legalities of the process itself.” (Pls.’ Br. at 8).
The Court shall grant Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss because Plaintiffs fail to state a
claim under Michigan law.
Because this case is in federal court based upon diversity jurisdiction, the substantive law
of Michigan governs the claims in this case. Armisted v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 675
F.3d 989, 995 (6th Cir. 2012).
“The Michigan vehicle code prohibits the abandonment of vehicles and provides a
statutory scheme for the removal and disposition of abandoned vehicles, as well as the processes
by which a person may recover a vehicle or challenge the removal or seizure of the vehicle. See
MCL 257.252a-m.” Noll v. Ritzer, __ N.W.2d __, 2016 WL 6087039 (Mich. App. Oct. 18,
2016). Notably, the statute expressly provides that the “remedies under sections 252 through
254 are the exclusive remedies for the disposition of abandoned vehicles.” Mich. Comp. Laws §
257.252e(4) (emphasis added). That means that if someone in Plaintiff’s position seeks to
challenge the disposition of an alleged abandoned vehicle, their sole recourse is to follow the
statutory provisions. The statute simply does not allow Plaintiffs to circumvent the statutory
scheme by labeling their claims conversion, replevin, fraud, or abuse of process. Accordingly,
Plaintiffs do not state a claim for conversion, replevin, fraud, or abuse of process under
Michigan law because the remedies under the statute “are the exclusive remedies for the
disposition of abandoned vehicles.” Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.252e(4).
CONCLUSION & ORDER
For the reasons set forth above, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is
GRANTED and this action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
S/Sean F. Cox
Sean F. Cox
United States District Judge
Dated: January 30, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of record on
January 30, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
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