Metcalfe v. Grieco Hyundai LLC

Full title: ELSIE METCALFE, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated…

Court: United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

Date published: Oct 3, 2023

Facts

Plaintiff Elsie Metcalfe leased a car from Defendant Grieco Hyundai LLC (“Grieco”) in May 2019. The Lease Agreement (ECF No. 33-3) provided that Ms. Metcalfe could purchase the vehicle at the end of the lease for the “residual value” plus a few minor fees for a total of $9,520.80. Ms. Metcalfe purchased the car three years later for $11,520-about $2000 more than the agreed-to price.

Ms. Metcalfe sued for (1) breach of contract; (2) violation of the federal Consumer Leasing Act (15 U.S.C. § 1667a(5) and 12 C.F.R. § 1013.4(i)); (3) violation of the Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”) (R.I. Gen. Laws § 6-13.1); (4) tortious interference with contract; and (5) unjust enrichment. She seeks to have her case against Grieco proceed as a class action. ECF No. 1 at 7-21. The Lease Agreement contained a class action waiver provision as follows:

R. CLASS ACTION WAIVER: TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, YOU HEREBY WAIVE ANY RIGHT YOU MAY HAVE TO BRING OR PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION RELATED TO THIS LEASE. (Exhibit A).

Grieco moves for the entry of an order striking the class allegations with prejudice, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f), or dismissing with prejudice the class action claims, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). ECF No. 29. Ms. Metcalfe objects, claiming that the class action waiver contract provision violates public policy and therefore is unenforceable. ECF No. 33.

Issue

Decision

Because the class action waiver here violates Rhode Island public policy, and because the Lease Agreement is not the only operative document in the dispute and the Purchase Agreement and the Installment Contract, which do not contain a class action waiver, supersede that Lease Agreement, the Court DENIES Defendant Grieco Hyundai LLC’s Motion to Strike Class Action Allegations, or to Dismiss the Class Action Claims. ECF No. 29.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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