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Case 1:19-cv-23623-AHS Document 88 Entered on FLSD Docket 04/14/2020 Page 1 of 8

UNITED STATES DISTRICT CO URT


SO UTHERN DISTRICT O F Florida

CASE NO .:19-23623-CIV-SING HAL

AUSTIN BELANG ER,

Plaintift
V.

APPLE,INC.,

Defendant.
I

O RDER

THIS CAUSE is before the Courton the Defendant's Motion to Dism iss Plaintifrs

FirstAmended Complaintand Incorporated Memorandum ofLaw (''Motion to Dism iss'')


(DE (41)),filed November26,2019. Plaintiffresponded (llResponse'') (DE (47))and
Defendanthas submitted a reply memorandum (DE (50)). This Courtheard very well-
presented oralargum entfrom counselon March 23,2020. The m atter is now ripe for

review .

1. BACKG RO UND

PlaintiffAustin Belanger(''plaintiff')broughta consumeractionagainstApple,Inc.


(''AppIe'')on behalfofhimselfand aIIothersimilarly situated Florida residents who own
an Apple iphone 4 or4s smadphone device (uiphone 4''). Apple isthe designer,seller,
and m anufacturerofiphone 4,released on June 7,2010,as the firstiphone to offerthe

video conferencing feature known as FaceTime ('$FaceTime''). Atthe time,Apple's


iphone operating system ($'iOS'
')iOS6 was preinstalled on iphone 4'
,however,in 2013,
Case 1:19-cv-23623-AHS Document 88 Entered on FLSD Docket 04/14/2020 Page 2 of 8

Apple released an update, the iOS7 operating system , w hich consumers could installon

theirdevice forupdates and fixes .

In April2012,Plaintiff purchased an iphone 4 to use the FaceTim e feature to

comm unicate with friends and fam ilyw hile he was deployed. See (Am.Com pl
.(DE I29J),
1131). Plaintiffclaimsthe iphone4 was operating on iOS 6 (and earlierversionsofiOS)
when the ability to use FaceTim e was intentionally broken by Apple on April16, 2014.

Since then,Plaintiffhas been unable to use FaceTime on his iphone 4 He claim s this
.

has significantly reduced the value of the device as the advedised feature lost

functionality.See id.at1132-33.Asa result,Plaintiffargues, consum ers were forced to


upgrade theirdevices to iO S7 or purchase newerdevices, Iike the iphone 5 or5c, to

regain the ability to use the FaceTime feature. &ee id.at1134. Pl


aintiffcontendsthathe
and members have suffered substantialinjuryin fact,including ''
diminution inthe value of
theirpersonalpropedy associated with consumers being forced to choose between (1)
keeping iOS 6 and Iosing FaceTime or(2)upgrading to iOS7 and keeping FaceTime, but
experiencing substantialpedorm ance problem s ' (Am .Compl.(DE E29)),N 157-58).On
.

November12,2019,Plaintifffiled hisAmended Complaint(DE (29J)alleging:(1)trespass


to personalproperty underFlorida Iaw (Count1)*
,and (2)violation ofFlorida's Deceptive
and UnfairTrade PracticesAct(''FDUTPA'')undersections501201-213,Florida Statutes
.

(Count11).
II. LEGAL STA NDA RD

Atthe pleading stage,a com plaintm ustcontain $'a shod and plain statementofthe

claim showing the (plaintim is entitled to reliet''Fed,R.Civ.P.8(a).Although Rule 8(a)


does not require ''detailed factualallegations,'' it does require llm ore than Iabels and

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conclusions ...a form ulaic recitation ofthe cause ofaction willnotdo '' BellAtl.Corp.?.
.

Twombly,550 U.S.544,555 (2007).To survive a m otion to dism iss,''factualallegations


m ustbe enough to raise a rightto reliefabove the speculative level''and m ustbe su/ cient

''to state a claim forreliefthat is plausible on its face.'' Id.at 555 '$
. A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiffpleads factualcontentthat allows the court to draw the

reasonable inference thatthe defendantis Iiable forthe m isconductalleged.' Ashcroftv.

lqbal,556 U.S.662,678 (2009).


In considering a Rule 12(b)(6)motion to dismiss,the court's review is generally
''Iim i
ted to the four corners ofthe com plaint.'' W lchom bev v Teevee Toons,Inc.,555
.

F.3d 949,959 (11th Cir.2009)(quoting St.George v.Pinellas Cty.,285 F.3d 1334,1337


(11th Cir.2002)). Courts mustreview the complaintin the Iightmostfavorable to the
plaintift and itmustgenerally acceptthe plaintifs well-pleaded facts astrue. Hishon B.
King & Spalding,467 U.S.69,73 (1984).
,Am.United Life Ins.Co.e.Martinez,480 F.3d
1043,1057 (11th Cir.2007).However,pleadingsthat''are no morethan conclusions are
notentitled to the assum ption oftruth.W hile legalconclusionscan provide the fram ework

ofa com plaint,they m ustbe suppoded by factualallegations. ' Iqbal,556 U.S.at679.

111. DISGUSSIO N

In its M otion to Dism iss,Apple argues this Coud should dism iss PlaintiT s claim for

trespass to chattel because digitalsoftware is not chattel under Florida law . Apple

elaborates that ''an action for trespass to chattels m ust involve m ovable personal

propedy.'' Inventory Locator Sem ,LLC B.Partsbase, Inc.,2005 W L 2179185, at *12

(W .D.Tenn.Sept.6,2005). Plaintiffdisagrees and arguesthat''in Florida (alny unlawful


interference,howeverslight,with another'senjoymentofhis orherpersonalproperty is
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a trespass,forcible dispossession being unnecessary as a rule.' Grace v.Apple,lnc.,

328 F.R.D.320,346 (N.D.Cal.2018)(emphasis in original).Apple insists 'sthatFlorida


'ddoes notrecognize a cause ofaction fortrespass to chattels in cyberspace.'' Inventory

LocatorSelv,LLC,2005 W L 2179185,at*12 (applying Florida law). Plaintiff,however,


m aintains his claim is notfortrespass to the soM are butto his iphone 4,nonetheless,

he admits itisthe operating system ''iOS Ithat)runsthe featuresand applicationson the


iphone.''(Am .Compl.(DE (29)),1141).
Apple maintains the Amended Complaint(DE (29))fails to plausibl
y plead that
Apple'sconductwas''unfair''and''deceptive''underFDUTPA.FDUTPA prohibits'Eulnfair
m ethods ofcom peti
tion,unconscionable acts orpractices,and unfairordeceptive acts of

practicesinthe conductofanytrade orcommerce.'j 501.204(1),Fla.Stat.A complaint


statesa FDUTPA cause ofaction ifitalleges (1)an unfairpractice ordeceptive act;(2)
causation'
,and (3)actualdamages.See Guerrero ?.TargefCorp.,889 F.Supp.2d 1348,
1356 (S.D.Fla.2012). Stated otherwise,the Iaw allows fora plaintiffto recoverunder
FDUTPA ifhe proveshewas injured''byanobjectivelydecepti
ve actorstatement.'State
Facn M &l.Auto.Ins. Co. B.Perform ance Orthopaedics & Neurosurgely, LLC,278 F.

Supp.3d 1307,1316 (S.D.Fla.2017). Plaintiffalleges thatApple acted unfairly by


intentionally orchestrating and im plem enting the FaceTim e Break'dw ithoutanyacceptable

justification,whetherbusinessorotherwise.''(Am.Compl.(DE I29J),11156).Apple refers


to its service agreem ent,which does notwarrantthatd'thatdefects in the iO S soqware ..

. willbe corrected.' (MTD (DE (41-1)),Ex.A 117.4).Fudher,Apple devised aufix''months


before the FaceTime interruption by introducing the iOS7 update,w hich Plaintiffelected

notto install.

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Finally,Apple argues the case should be dism issed because both of PlaintiT s

claims are barred by the statute of lim itations. Section 95 11(3),Fl


. orida Statutes,
provides thatan action shallbe com m enced w i
thin fouryears. See Fla.Stat j 95.11(3)'
. ,
seealso Fla.Stat.j 95.11(3)(9 ($'An actionfounded ona statutory Iiability.nl'
,see also Fla.
Stat.j 95.11(3)(h)(d
lAn actionfor...injuring personalproperty.D).Plainti
ffdid notfile his
com plaintuntilm ore than five years aqerthe FaceTim e interruption on his iphone 4s on

April 16,2014. Apple insists this is dispositive because Plaintiff's causes of action

accrued l'
w henthe lastelementconsti
tutingthe cause ofaction occurEredl.''Hearndon v.
Graham ,767 So.2d 1179,1184-85 (FIa.2000)(citation om i
tted).W hile Plainti
ffagrees
the complaintwas notfiled untilfive years Iater,he alleges that''(a)IIapplicable statutes
ofIim itations have been tolled by Apple's knowing and active fraudulentconcealmentand

denialofthe facts alleged herein through the period relevantto this action '
.'(Am.Compl.
(DE E29)),% 130).
Plaintiffclaim s he did notknow ,and could nothave known,aboutthe facts giving

rise to this case untilM ay 9,2016,w hen transcripts from the 2016 Virnetx trialbecame

public.See (Am.Compl.(DE 129)),11130).


,see also Grace ?.App/e,328 F.R.D.320,345
(N.D.Cal.Sept.18,2018)('dGiven thatthe transcripts from (the Virnetx)trialwere not
released untilM ay 9,2016,Plaintiffs have a reasonable argum entthatclass mem bers'

claims did notaccrue untilthatdate(.)'). In response,Apple argues thatfraudulent


concealm ent is not specifically enum erated in Florida's generaltolling statute . See

genera//y Fla. Stat. j 95.051. Plaintiff admits that fraudulent concealment is not
specifically enum erated in the statute,however,Plaintiffargues itis 'lwidely accepted as

an equitable basis fortolling a statute ofIim itations underFlorida Iaw '


. '(Resp.(DE (47)),

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at18)(citing lnre Bldg.MaterialsCorp.ofAm.AsphaltRoofing Shingle Prods.Liab.Litig.,


2013 W L 139520,at*10 (D.S.C.Jan.10,2013)and In re VitaminsAntitrustLitig.,2000
W L33975412 (D.D.C.Oct.26,2000)).Appledisagreesand arguesthateveniffraudulent
concealm entapplied,Plaintiffhas failed to sufficiently plead a Ieveloffraud ''sum cientto

place him in ignorance ofhis rightto a cause ofaction orto preventhim from discovering

his injury.''RazorCapital,LLC v.CMAX Fin.LLC.,No.17-80388,2017 W L 3481761,at


*4-5 (S.D.Fla.Aug.14,2017)(citations omitted).
IV. ANA LYSIS

Here, Plaintil raises interesting argum ents regarding Trespass to Chatteland

FDUTPA.The coud need notreach the merits ofthese claim s,however,because Apple's

statute of Iim itations position is dispositive. llGenerally,w hether a claim is barred by

statute ofIim itations should be raised as an affirm ative defense in the answerratherthan

in a m otion to dism iss ... However,iffacts on the face ofthe pleadings show thatthe

statute oflim itations bars the action,the defense can be raised by m otion to dism iss.''

Am erican Mar/rle Tech.,Inc.,?.W orld Group Yachting,Inc.,418 F.supp 3d 1075,1080

(S.D.Fla.2019)(internalcitation and quotation marksom itted).


A coud's 'authority to interpret statutory Ianguage is constrained by the plain

m eaning ofthe statutory Ianguage in the contextofthe entire statute,as assisted by the

canons ofstatutory construction.'' Edison e.Do&ber/y,604 F.3d 1307,1310 (11th Cir.


2010). l
$(< e do notIook atone word orterm in isolation butratherIook to the entire
statute and its context.' Id. W hile Plaintiffs argue fraudulent concealmentas a w idely

accepted basis forequitable tolling ofthe statute ofIim itations in Florida,the controlling

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statute precludes application ofany tolling provision notspecifically provided therein.See

Fla.Stat.j 95.051(2).
,see also Hearndon,767 So.2d at1185.
'Fraudulentconcealm entcan tollthe running ofa statute ofIim itations w hen the

fraud perpetrated upon the injured party places him in ignorance ofhis rightto sue.''Burr
B.Phillp Morr/sUSA /rr.,559 Fed.Appx.961,964 (11thCir.2014)(quoting WirtB.Central
Life Assur.,Co.,613 So.2d 478,479 (FIa.2d DCA 1992)(citing Nardone B.Reynolds,
333 So.2d 25 (FIa.1976)).''Fraudulentconcealmentrequiresthe defendantsto engage
in the willfulconcealm entofthe cause ofaction using fraudulentmeans to achieve that

concealment.''Id.(quoting Raie e.Cheminova,Inc.,336 F.3d 1278,1282 n.1(11th Cir.


2003)). Here,Plaintis has failed to show Apple concealed the cause ofaction orutilized
fraudulentm eans to achieve such concealm ent.

Further,this Courtis notconvinced thatM ay 9,2016,was the firstopportunity for

Plaintiff to Iearn of the FaceTim e interruption. Apple announced the release of the

upgraded operating system ,iOS7,in 2013. See (Am.Compl.(DE (29J),!177),


*see also
(Am .Compl.(DE (29)),1181)('dThisgeneralized reduction in functionalitysuffered bythe
iphone 4 and iphone 4S devices upon transitioning to iO S 7 was thoroughly

documented in m edia repoe dedicated to these problems.'')(citing an article dated


October 15,2013) (em phasis added). Nonetheless,despi
te the Vim etx transcripts
becom ing public on M ay 9,2016,Plainti# did notfile suituntilAugust 28,2019. This

Coud finds Plaintif s claim s are barred by the statute of Iim itations. Accordingly,itis

hereby
ORDERED AND ADJUDG ED thatthe Defendant's Motion to Dism iss Plaintifrs

FirstAmended Complaintand Incorporated Memorandum ofLaw (uMotion to Dismiss'')

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(DE (41))is GRANTED. This cause shallstand DISMISSED W ITH PREJUDICE. See
Hollis ?. > Acad. Charlec /nc.,782 Fed.Appx.951,953 (11th Cir.2019) (quoting
Gonsa/vez v.Celebrity Cruises,Inc.,750 F.3d 1195,1197 (11th Cir.2013))(''A Rule
12(b)(6)dismissalbased on the statute ofIimitations is proper'ifitis apparentfrom the
face ofthe complaintthatthe claim istime-barred.'n). The Clerk ofCourtis directed to
CLO SE this case and DENY AS M OOT any pending m otions .

DO NE A ND O RDERED in Cham bers,FortLauderdale,Florida, this 13th day of

April2020.

RM G SING H
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Copies furnished to counselofrecord via CM/ECF