United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
January 20, 2004.
DUANE J. ROWE
METABOLITE INTERNATIONAL, INC. and THE CHEMINS COMPANY, INC
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MICHAEL BAYLSON, District Judge
Duane J. Rowe, administrator of the estate of Shirley Rowe, deceased,
has filed a Complaint against Metabolife International, Inc.
("Metabolife") and The Chemins Company, Inc. ("Chemins"), alleging a
variety of claims involving the wrongful death of Shirley Rowe due to her
ingestion of Metabolife, an ephedra product manufactured and sold by
Defendants. Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 25, 2003. Defendant
Chemins filed a Motion to Dismiss on September 29, 2003 and briefing was
completed on October 29, 2003. Presently before this Court is Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be
granted without prejudice and Plaintiff will be given leave to amend.
II. Legal Standard
When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court may look only to the facts alleged in the
complaint and its attachments. Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien &
Frankel, 20 F.3d 1251, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). The Court must accept as true
all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint and view them in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. Angelastro v. Prudential-Bache Sec.,
Inc., 764 F.2d 939, 944 (3d Cir. 1985). A Rule
12(b)(6) motion will be granted only when it is certain that no relief
could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved by the
plaintiff. Ransom v. Marrazzo, 848 F.2d 398, 401 (3d Cir. 1988).
This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because
this action involves individuals who are citizens of different states and
because the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Venue is proper in
this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because the decedent lived
in this district and the circumstances alleged occurred in this district.
Although Plaintiff's Complaint specifically lists only two counts for
relief, titled "Wrongful Death" and "Survival Action," a reading of the
Complaint reveals that Plaintiff is actually making a number of
allegations. These allegations include fraudulent deception (Complaint ¶¶
65, 68, 70), negligence (Complaint ¶ 65), negligence per se (Complaint
¶ 72-75), failure to warn of a defective product (Complaint ¶¶ 55,
60-62), and manufacturing and design defects (Complaint ¶¶ 58-60, 63-64),
all stemming from Defendants' design, manufacture, marketing, and sale of
the ephedra product named Metabolife.
Defendant Chemins has brought a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) based on a failure to properly allege fraud
according to Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). Rule 9(b) provides: "In all averments of
fraud or mistake, the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake shall
be stated with particularity." This requires a plaintiff to plead the
elements of fraud, which are: (1) a specific false representation of
material fact; (2) knowledge by the person who made it of its falsity; (3)
ignorance of its falsity by the person to whom it was made; (4) the
intention that it should be acted upon; and (5) that the plaintiff acted
upon it to his damage. Christidis v. First
Pennsylvania Mortgage Trust, 717 F.2d 96, 99 (3d Cir. 1983).
Despite these stringent requirements, the courts should be "sensitive"
to the fact that application of the Rule prior to discovery "may permit
sophisticated defrauders to successfully conceal the details of their
fraud." They should also respect the "general simplicity and flexibility"
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Shapiro v. UJB Fin. Corp.,
964 F.2d 272, 284 (3d Cir. 1992). However, even under a more relaxed
application of the rule, plaintiffs must accompany such an allegation with
a statement of facts upon which their allegation is based. In re
Craftmatic Sec. Litig., 890 F.2d 628, 645 (3d Cir. 1990). See Wright &
Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d § 1297-98 (1990).
Defendant argues that Plaintiff has only raised conclusory allegations
of fraud and has failed to distinguish between the two Defendants to this
action in the allegations of fraud. Taking the liberal pleading
requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure into account,
Plaintiff has properly pled the elements of fraud in the Complaint, in
general. Plaintiff has alleged facts that address the elements of
knowledge (Complaint ¶¶ 23-43), false representation (Complaint ¶¶ 65,
68), intent to rely (Complaint ¶¶ 65-66), and reliance resulting in injury
(Complaint ¶¶ 52-53, 77, 80).
Plaintiff's Complaint, however, is deficient in regard to the
allegations of fraud against each Defendant. "When the acts of multiple
defendants are alleged to constitute fraud, plaintiffs must separately
plead the allegedly fraudulent acts of each defendant to comply with Rule
9(b)." In re Home Health Corp. of Am. Sec. Litig., Fed. Sec. L. Rep.
(CCH) P90, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1230, at *60 (E.D. Pa. January 29,
1999), citing Rosenbaum & Co. v. H.J. Myers & Co., 1997 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 15720, 1997 WL 689288 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 9, 1997) (holding that
should clearly enunciate the facts on which plaintiffs base their claims
against each defendant). Although the liberal pleading requirements of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are to be considered here,
Plaintiff's Complaint simply does not make allegations that are specific
to either Defendant.
The Complaint's section describing the parties indicates that Plaintiff
recognizes that Defendant Chemins and Defendant Metabolife had different
roles in the production and sale of the product in question. The
Complaint indicates that Metabolife "was in the business of promoting,
marketing, distributing, manufacturing, and selling its dietary
supplement containing ephedra, marketed under the trade name Metabolife."
(Complaint ¶ 9). However, the Complaint states that Chemins "supplies
ephedra and/or materials containing ephedrine alkaloids" and is "in the
business of assembling ingredients per supplied specifications for a
product marketed under the name Metabolife." (Complaint ¶ 10-11). This
description of the parties clearly indicates that Defendant Chemins was a
manufacturer of the product, while Defendant Metabolife manufactured,
marketed, and distributed the product. However, the remainder of the
Complaint does not distinguish between the Defendants. The Complaint
makes allegations including failure to warn, improper testing, deceptive
marketing, defective product design and manufacture, and fraudulent
representation of the product to consumers and the FDA, but addresses all
of the allegations to the Defendants, generally. As the pleading
requirements of Rule 9(b) require the Plaintiff to plead fraud with
particularity and Plaintiff has, in no way, indicated which allegations of
fraud apply to each Defendant, the requirements of Rule 9(b) have not
For the reasons stated above, the Motion to Dismiss by Defendant
Chemins will be
granted, and Plaintiff will be given leave to amend the Complaint
to comply with the requirements of Rule 9(b).
An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this day of, 2003, it is hereby ORDERED that the Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 4) is GRANTED without prejudice and the
Plaintiff is given leave to amend.
Plaintiff may file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days of this
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