United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KINKEADE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Monarch Dental Services' Motion to
Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (Doc. No. 6). The
Court has carefully considered the motion, the response, the
reply, the applicable law, and the relevant portions of the
record. Because Plaintiff's case is barred by res
judicata, the Court GRANTS
alleged in her Complaint for Declaratory Judgment
(“Complaint”), Plaintiff Vicki Bates
(“Plaintiff”) purchased prosthodontic
“goods and services” from Defendant Monarch
Dental Services (“Defendant”) on April 25, 2015.
Plaintiff contends there was an implied warranty by Defendant
that it would “provide prosthodontic goods and services
by a qualified prosthodontists [sic] that was a
specialist” in certain areas. Plaintiff states that the
dental treatment Defendant provided was begun by
“qualified prosthodontists” as warranted by
Defendant, but it was ultimately finished by a “regular
Dentist”. (It is unclear from the pleadings whether
Plaintiff's treatment occurred in one visit or over
multiple visits.) Plaintiff contends that because a general
dentist completed her treatment “the goods and services
rendered were defective, ” and she was forced to seek
corrective work from an independent prosthodontist at
additional expense to Plaintiff.
filed suit against Defendant in state court on April 28,
2017, asserting Defendant violated the Texas Deceptive Trade
Practices Act (“DTPA”) based on the prosthodontic
treatment she received from Defendant. Subsequently,
Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment in state court
which the presiding judge granted on all grounds on January
3, 2018, dismissing Plaintiff's case with prejudice. On
January 31, 2019, Plaintiff filed this suit against Defendant
in federal court seeking a declaratory judgment based on the
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”), alleging
Defendant breached an implied warranty under Texas state law.
Plaintiff asks the Court to “declare that Defendant as
[sic] acted in violation of the provisions of the
[MMWA]” and seeks “specific declaratory
relief” of a judgment for $168, 614 in damages.
Defendant then filed this motion to dismiss.
Legal Standard and Applicable Law
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must determine
whether the plaintiff has sufficiently stated a claim upon
which relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A
well-pleaded complaint must allege facts upon which the
claims are based and not be a conclusory recitation of the
elements of a cause of action. Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint must
state sufficient facts such that the “claim has facial
plausibility” and is not merely “possible.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A
plaintiff pleads a claim with facial plausibility when the
“factual content . . . allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable.”
Id. The complaint must allege sufficient facts to
“give the defendant fair notice” of
plaintiff's claims against the defendant.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). The alleged facts must
be facially plausible such that the facts nudge the
plaintiff's claims “across the line from
conceivable to plausible.” Id. at 570. The
Court “accept[s] all well-pleaded facts as true and
view[s] those facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Stokes v. Gann, 498 F.3d 483, 484
(5th Cir. 2007) (per curiam). The Court “do[es] not
accept as true conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual
inferences, or legal conclusions.” Ferrer v.
Chevron Corp., 484 F.3d 776, 780 (5th Cir. 2007)
(quoting Plotkin v. IP Axess Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696
(5th Cir. 2005)).
Court must generally determine a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim based solely on the pleadings,
including any attachments thereto. Collins v. Morgan
Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498 (5th Cir. 2000).
The Fifth Circuit also allows the district court to consider
documents attached to the motion to dismiss when those
documents “are referred to in the plaintiff's
complaint and are central to [the plaintiff's]
claim.” Id. at 498-99 (quoting Venture
Assocs. Corp. v. Zenith Data Sys. Corp., 987 F.2d 429,
431 (7th Cir. 1993)).
a successful affirmative defense appears on the face of the
pleadings, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be
appropriate.” Kansa Reinsurance Co., Ltd. v. Cong.
Mortg. Corp. of Tex., 20 F.3d 1362, 1366 (5th Cir.
1994); see Hall v. Hodgkins, 305 Fed.Appx. 224,
227-28 (5th Cir. 2008) (“If, based on the facts pleaded
and judicially noticed, a successful affirmative defense
appears, then dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is
proper.”). Res judicata is an affirmative
defense which provides that “a final judgment on the
merits of an action precludes the parties or their privies
from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised
in that action.” Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S.
90, 94 (1980). Therefore, “[d]ismissal on res
judicata grounds may be appropriate when the elements of
res judicata are apparent on the face of the
pleadings.” Avila v. Ocwen Loan Servicing,
LLC, Cause No. SA-14-CA-0460-OLG, 2014 WL 12580450, at
*2 (W.D. Tex. June 6, 2014) (citing Dean v. Miss. Bd. of
Bar Admissions, 394 Fed.Appx. 172, 175 (5th Cir. 2010)).
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”) creates a
private cause of action allowing a “consumer” to
sue a warrantor for damages related to a violation of a
provision of the MMWA or a breach of a written or implied
warranty. 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)(1); see Walton v. Rose
Mobile Homes, LLC, 298 F.3d 470, 474 (5th Cir. 2002).
The MMWA defines “implied warranty” as meaning
“an implied warranty arising under State law.”
§ 2301(7). “The MMWA does not provide an
independent basis for liability, but instead ‘provides
a federal cause of action for state law express and implied
warranty claims.'” Taliaferro v. Samsung
Telecomms. Am., LLC, Civil Action No. 3:11-CV-1119-D,
2012 WL 169704, at *10 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 19, 2012) (quoting
In re Sony Grand Wega KDF-EA10/A20 Series Rear Projection
HDTV Television Litig., 758 F.Supp.2d 1077, 1101 (S.D.
Res Judicata-Claim Preclusion and Issue
argues first that Plaintiff's case must be dismissed
because her federal lawsuit is barred by res
judicata, both claim preclusion and issue preclusion.
Defendant contends that claim preclusion applies because
Plaintiff's federal lawsuit seeks to relitigate the same
claims, or those which should have been raised, in her state
court lawsuit which was dismissed with prejudice. Defendant
also contends issue preclusion applies because Plaintiff
seeks to relitigate the same ultimate fact of her state court
lawsuit. In her response, “Plaintiff concedes that this
case meets the classic requirements for issue or claims
preclusion under prevailing Texas law.” Pl's Resp.
(Doc. No. 11) at 1 ¶ 3. But she asserts that an
exception to res judicata applies and cites
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Schneiderman, 316 F.Supp.3d 679
(S.D. N.Y. 2018), in support.
Court concludes Plaintiff's reliance on the
Exxon case for her argument is misplaced. First, the
Exxon court's analysis found issue preclusion
did not apply in that case based upon Massachusetts
state law. Id. at 699-700. Massachusetts state law
is undeniably not applicable in the case before this Court.
Additionally, the Exxon court specifically limited
the exception arising under Massachusetts law to issue
preclusion, finding that “[t]he same considerations do
not apply to claim preclusion.” Id. at 703.
With nothing more in support of this argument, ...