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Slezak v. Subaru Corp.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 23, 2019

RICHARD SLEZAK, Plaintiff,
v.
SUBARU CORPORATION, SUBARU OF AMERICA, DOES 1-25, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING CERTAIN CLAIMS AND DIRECTING SERVICE OF THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT [1]

          DERRICK K. WATSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On March 28, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff Richard Slezak's application to proceed in forma pauperis and provided him with partial leave to amend his complaint. Dkt. No. 7. On May 2, 2019, Slezak, proceeding pro se, filed a First Amended Complaint (FAC) against Subaru Corporation, Subaru of America (Subaru Corporation and Subaru of America, together, the “Subaru Defendants”), and Does 1-25 (Does 1-25 and the Subaru Defendants, collectively, “Defendants”). Dkt. No. 9. Having reviewed the FAC, the Court will allow certain of the alleged claims to proceed, but dismisses others without further leave to amend. The Court also directs service of the FAC as set forth below.[2]

         I. Screening of the FAC

         The Court liberally construes the pro se FAC. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987). However, the Court cannot act as counsel for a pro se litigant or supply the essential elements of a claim. Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004); Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

         In the FAC, Slezak appears to bring six claims related to a Subaru vehicle he purchased on February 14, 2014. Those claims are: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability;[3] (3) breach of the implied warranty of fitness for purpose; (4) violation of the Magnuson Moss Act (MMA); (5) breach of express warranties; and (6) punitive damages. The Court addresses each alleged claim below.

         1. Breach of Contract

         The FAC alleges that Subaru Corporation “contracted with [Slezak] through a third party known as ‘Servco Subaru of Maui.'”[4] The FAC asserts that Subaru Corporation and Subaru of America have breached a contract with Slezak by refusing to honor a warranty and refusing to replace Slezak's vehicle.

         Although the FAC is far from a model of clarity, the Court will allow Slezak's breach-of-contract claim to proceed against only Subaru Corporation and only with respect to its alleged failure to honor a warranty. The FAC does not allege that Slezak and Subaru of America are parties to a contract. See Honold v. Deutsche Bank. Nat'l Trust Co., 2010 WL 5174383, at *3 (D. Haw. Dec. 15, 2010) (dismissing a breach-of-contract claim for failure to identify the contract at issue, the parties to the contract, whether the plaintiff performed under the contract, the particular provision of the contract allegedly violated, and how the defendants allegedly breached the contract). In addition, the FAC fails to allege that any contract between the parties contains a provision that any of the named defendants replace or repurchase a defective vehicle. See id. Instead, the FAC merely alleges that Subaru Corporation has refused to do so.

         Because Slezak has been provided with an opportunity to amend this claim, he will not be provided another opportunity to correct the above-mentioned deficiencies. As a result, the breach-of-contract claim (Claim One) may proceed only as set forth above.

         2. Breach of Implied Warranties

         A. Merchantability

         In the March 28, 2019 Order, the Court found that Slezak's claim for a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability could proceed for purposes of screening. Dkt. No. 7 at 6-7. As a result, the same claim (Claim Two) in the FAC may also proceed against the Subaru Defendants.

         B. Fitness for Purpose

         In the March 28, 2019 Order, the Court declined to construe the original complaint as alleging a claim concerning the implied warranty of fitness for purpose because there was no allegation that Slezak's vehicle was purchased for a purpose other than the usual purpose for which any non-commercial vehicle is bought. See Ontai v. Straub Clinic & Hosp. Inc., 659 P.2d 734, 744 (Haw. 1983) (explaining that the implied warranty of merchantability means that goods are fit for the ordinary purpose for which such goods are used, while the ...


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