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AM Logistics Inc. v. Sorbee International, LLC

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 9, 2014

AM LOGISTICS INC.
v.
SORBEE INTERNATIONAL, LLC

MEMORANDUM

R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

Presently before the Court is Defendant Sorbee International, LLC’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or in the Alternative, Motion for More Definite Statement Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). (ECF No. 8.) For the following reasons, Defendant’s Motion will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND [[1]]

Plaintiff AM Logistics Inc. files this lawsuit against Defendant Sorbee International, LLC, alleging claims for breach of contract, book account, and unjust enrichment. The claims arise out of an agreement between the parties under which Plaintiff “act[ed] as a broker arranging for the inland transportation of cargoes to, from, and for the benefit of Defendant.” (Compl. ¶ 5, ECF No. 1.)[2] Plaintiff alleges that, under the agreement, Plaintiff arranged for the transportation of cargoes for the benefit of, and at the request of, Defendant. (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 7.) In the course of this business relationship, Defendant ordered transportation-related services from Plaintiff and Plaintiff would submit invoices to Defendant for these services. (Id. at ¶¶ 8, 11.) The invoices submitted to Defendant included the charges of road carriers, tractor-trailer operators, and other entities for which Plaintiff had covered the cost. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant has failed to pay for services incurred for the time period of July 26, 2012 to November 20, 2012. (Id. at ¶ 13.) The unpaid invoices total $183, 130.34. (Id. at ¶ 14 & Ex. A (“Statement of Account”).) Plaintiff has made demands to Defendant for payment. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

On May 23, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint, asserting claims for breach of contract (Count One); book account (Count Two); and unjust enrichment (Count Three). On June 25, 2013, Defendant filed the instant Amended Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, For More Definite Statement. (Def.’s Mot.) Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendant’s Motion on July 9, 2013. (Pl.’s Resp.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motion to Dismiss

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), “in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, ” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A complaint that merely alleges entitlement to relief, without alleging facts that show entitlement, must be dismissed. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009). Courts need not accept “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements . . . .” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Id. at 679. This “‘does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ’ but instead ‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of’ the necessary element.” Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

B. Motion for a More Definite Statement

Pursuant to Rule 12(e), “[a] party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). Rule 12(e) motions are “highly disfavored” in light of Rule 8, which requires only a short and plain statement of the claim. Country Classics at Morgan Hill Homeowner’ Ass’n v. Country Classics at Morgan Hill, LLC, 780 F.Supp.2d 367, 371 (E.D. Pa. 2011); see also Sun Co. v. Badger Design & Constructors, 939 F.Supp. 365, 374 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (“The class of pleadings that are appropriate subjects for a motion under Rule 12(e) is quite small—the pleading must be sufficiently intelligible for the court to be able to make out one or more potentially viable legal theories on which the claimant might proceed.” (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1376 (1990))).

Rule 12(e) motions are not substitutes for the discovery process. See Steinberg v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Amer., 486 F.Supp. 122, 123 (E.D. Pa. 1980) (denying motion for a more definite statement where complaint was not so vague or ambiguous and “[a]dditional information may be obtained from the discovery procedures”). Granting the request for a more definite statement is only appropriate when the pleading is “so vague or ambiguous that the opposing party cannot respond, even with a simple denial, in good faith; without prejudice to itself.” Sun Co., 939 F.Supp. at 368 (quotations omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant seeks dismissal of all three claims alleged in the Complaint. Specifically, Defendant contends that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that a viable contract existed, and that Defendant breached that contract. Defendant further contends that Plaintiff’s book account claim is similarly deficient in that it fails to allege the basic elements of an agreement. Finally, Defendant contends that Plaintiff cannot plead both an unjust enrichment claim and a breach of contract claim since the remedies for these claims are inconsistent, and that Plaintiff failed to state an unjust enrichment claim. To the extent that Defendant’s request to dismiss the Complaint is denied, Defendant requests that Plaintiff be required to file an amended Complaint that pleads with more ...


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