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PITTSBURGH NATL. BANK v. WELTON BECKET ASSOCS.

January 31, 1985

PITTSBURGH NATIONAL BANK, a national banking association, Plaintiff,
v.
WELTON BECKET ASSOCIATES and TURNER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, JOHN SWENSON GRANITE COMPANY, INC., GEORGIA MARBLE SETTING COMPANY, GEORGIA MARBLE COMPANY, Defendants, v. LITTELL STEEL COMPANY and RAGNAR-BENSON, INC., VERMONT MARBLE COMPANY, Third-Party Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL

 Presently before us are the Rule 12 motions of Defendant, Turner Construction Company ("Turner"), attacking the complaint filed by Plaintiff, Pittsburgh National Bank ("PNB") in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and removed to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Turner's motions include a motion to strike, a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and a motion for a more definite statement.

 The underlying action arises out of alleged design and construction defects in the exterior granite facade of PNB's headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The building was begun in 1969 and completed in 1972. In approximately November of 1983, PNB discovered that the granite panels on the exterior of the building were slipping and that, in order to prevent further damage, the anchorage system and granite panels would have to be repaired or replaced. PNB brought this action against both Turner, the general contractor for the building project, and Welton Becket Associates ("Welton Becket"), the project architect, for breach of contract and negligence.

 Motion for More Definite Statement

 Pursuant to Rule 12(c) Fed. R. Civ. P., Turner requests that this court order PNB to make a more definite statement of the claims alleged in paragraphs 18, particularly subsections b, c, f, and g, and 32, particularly subsections b, d and e, of the complaint. Turner asserts that these paragraphs are too vague and general to provide it with a sufficient basis from which to prepare its defense. Paragraph 18 alleges breach of contract generally, then specifically enumerates in seven (7) subsections particular instances of alleged breach. Paragraph 32 alleges negligence in provision of services generally, then specifically enumerates in five (5) subsections particular instance of alleged negligence.

 After removal to federal court, the complaint becomes subject to the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as if it had originally been commenced in this court. Fed. R. Civ. P. 81(c); Ciotti v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company, 511 F. Supp. 647, 648 (E.D. Pa. 1981). Rule 12(e) provides as follows:

 
(e) Motion for More Definite Statement. If a pleading to which a responsive pleading is permitted is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading, he may move for a more definite statement before interposing his responsive pleading. The motion shall point out the defects complained of and the details desired. If the motion is granted and the order of the court is not obeyed within 10 days after notice of the order or within such other time as the court may fix, the court may strike the pleading to which the motion was directed or make such order as it deems just.

 Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e) (Emphasis added).

 In order to construe the language of Rule 12(e), we must look to the general rules of pleadings provided in Rule 8. Rule 8(a) (2) calls for a "short and plain statement of the claim . . ." Similarly, Rule 8(e)(1) calls for "simple, concise and direct" avertments. Courts have interpreted Rule 8 as a provision allowing for a flexible approach to framing pleadings and purposely avoiding the technical pleading requirements of the old codes. 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1215 (1969). See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 48, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 86 (1957). Under the Federal Rules notice pleading standard, complaints must be liberally construed. American Medicorp, Inc. v. Humana, Inc., 445 F. Supp. 573 (E.D. Pa. 1977). As long as it provides fair notice of the nature and basis of the claim asserted and a general indication of the type of litigation involved, subsequent discovery and pretrial procedures will narrow and shape the issues and provide relevant facts. Conley, 355 U.S. at 47, 48; Heisman v. Giordano, 343 F. Supp. 1258, 1259 (E.D. Pa. 1972); Lewis v. U.S. Slicing Machine Co., 311 F. Supp. 139, 140 (W.D. Pa. 1970).

 The complaint filed by PNB states the nature of its claims as breach of contract and negligent construction. It specifies the acts and omissions supporting its claims generally. Fed. R. Civ. P. 84 states that its Appendix of Forms gives examples of sufficient complaints demonstrating the simplicity and brevity contemplated by the rules. Form 9, an example of a negligence complaint, alleges negligent driving. It does not specify in what manner the Defendant was allegedly negligent. If this form is sufficient, surely PNB's complaint enumerating negligent selection of an anchorage system, procurement of materials, use of reasonable care and skill, adequate inspection, and attention to safety details would be sufficient. Likewise, PNB's allegations in breach of contract sufficiently notify Turner of the claims against it to prepare its responsive pleadings. Consequently, Turner's motion for a more definite statement must be denied.

 Motion to Strike

 The court is granted the power to strike under Rule 12(f):

 
(f) Motion to Strike. Upon motion by a party before responding to a pleading or, if no responsive pleading is permitted by these rules, upon motion made by a party within 20 days after the service of the pleading upon him or upon the court's own initiative at any time, the court may order stricken from any pleading any ...

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