Vickie Thorne v. Pep Boys Manny Moe & Jack

PRECEDENTIAL UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT _____________ No. 20-1540 _____________ VICKIE THORNE, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Appellant v. PEP BOYS MANNY MOE & JACK INC. _____________ On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 2:19-cv-00393) District Judge: Honorable J. Curtis Joyner _____________ Argued September 22, 2020 Before: SMITH, Chief Judge, McKEE, and JORDAN, Circuit Judges (Filed: November 20, 2020) Yifei Li Brenden S. Thompson Alexandra C. Warren Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca 4725 Wisconsin Avenue, NW Suite 200 Washington, DC 20016 Robert K. Shelquist [ARGUED] Lockridge Grindal Nauen 100 Washington Avenue South Suite 2200 Minneapolis, MN 55401 Counsel for Appellant Kristen E. Dennison C. Scott Toomey [ARGUED] Littleton Park Joyce Ughetta & Kelly 201 King of Prussia Road Suite 220 Radnor, PA 19087 Counsel for Appellee ________________ OPINION OF THE COURT ________________ SMITH, Chief Judge. However appropriate may have been Virginia Woolf’s comparison of the unhappy Mrs. Dalloway to “a wheel without a tyre,” Plaintiff Vickie Thorne considers herself aggrieved 2 despite having equipped her car with two new tires. 1 Wheels are not an issue. What is at issue is a federal regulation that requires a tire dealer to help customers register their new tires with the manufacturer. That regulation was promulgated under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, 49 U.S.C. § 30101, et seq. (“the Act”), and the Act’s stated pur- pose is to reduce traffic accidents and their consequent human toll. Thorne’s appeal turns on whether she can sue her tire dealer for ignoring its regulatory tire registration obligation. The regulation prescribes three methods for tire dealers like Pep Boys Manny Moe & Jack Inc. to help register a buyer’s tires. According to Thorne, Pep Boys failed to pursue any of the three when, or after, it sold her the tires. So she sued on behalf of a class of Pep Boys customers who similarly received no tire registration assistance. But Thorne’s suit skid- ded to a halt when the District Court dismissed her complaint without leave to amend. The Court held that a dealer’s failure to help register a buyer’s tires in one of the three prescribed ways does not, by itself, create an injury in fact for purposes of Article III standing. We agree with that ratio decidendi but, because a district court has no jurisdiction to rule on the merits when a plaintiff lacks standing, we will vacate and remand for the District Court to dismiss Thorne’s operative complaint without prejudice. I. BACKGROUND Congress passed the Act to “reduce traffic accidents and deaths and injuries resulting from traffic accidents.” 49 U.S.C. § 30101; 80 Stat. 718. Congress later amended the Act to 1 Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway 112 (Hogarth Press 1925). 3 require that every tire dealer unaffiliated with a tire manufac- turer “give a registration form (containing the tire identifica- tion number) to the first purchaser of a tire.” 2 49 U.S.C. § ...

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