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I.B. v. Facebook, Inc. - 905 F. Supp. 2d 989 (N.D. Cal. 2012)

Rule:

A complaint must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.

Facts:

On October 2011, Plaintiff I.B., a minor, purchased Facebook Credits from Facebook for use in "Ninja Saga," using the Wells Fargo Master Card of his mother, plaintiff Glynnis Bohannon. Subsequently, without any notice that Bohannon’s credit card information had been stored by Facebook and the Facebook Credits system, or that Bohannon’s credit card information was being used again after the initial $20 purchase, I.B. made in-game purchases for which he thought he was spending virtual, in-game currency. As a result, Bohannon's credit card was charged repeatedly and without her consent, and the charges totaled several hundred dollars. Upon discovering the transactions, Bohannon tried to obtain a refund from Facebook by leaving a phone message at a phone number listed for Facebook but received no response. Meanwhile, on December 2011, Plaintiff J.W., a minor, began to make a series of charges via Facebook Credits using the debit card of his parents, Plaintiffs Julie Wright and Steven Wright, which J.W. had taken from his parents without their permission. Upon learning of these charges, Steven Wright submitted a complaint to Facebook. On February 2012, Plaintiff Bohannon filed the present action individually, but later amended the complaint to assert class-wide claims against Facebook. The plaintiffs alleged, among many others that the contracts between Facebook and the minors were void or voidable under Family Code Section 6710. Facebook moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim and to strike the class allegations. Plaintiffs opposed the motions.

Issue:

  1. Should the action be dismissed for its failure to state a claim?
  2. Should the class allegations be struck out?

Answer:

1) Yes. 2) No.

Conclusion:

The Court noted that a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." In their first claim for declaratory relief, Plaintiffs allege that the minor Plaintiffs purported to delegate to Facebook the power to withdraw funds from their parents' credit cards or bank accounts in connection with their purchases of Facebook Credits. However, the Complaint did not support an inference that Facebook was acting as an agent of the minor Plaintiffs, who purportedly authorized Facebook to charge a debit against their parents' credit cards and/or bank accounts. Rather, Plaintiffs alleged that the members of the class engaged in an arms-length transaction involving offer, acceptance and consideration. Accordingly, the Complaint failed to state a claim for declaratory relief on the ground that the purchases of Facebook Credits are void pursuant to section 6701(a) of the Family Code. As regards to Facebook’s motion to strike class allegations, the Court held that the motion was premature.

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