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Lamb v. Snow

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 11, 2017

GEORGE LAMB, JR, and TRACY LAMB, Plaintiffs,
v.
RICHARDS SNOW AND ICE REMOVAL, and SAMUEL RICHARDS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion for a More Definite Statement (ECF No. 8). The present case arises from Plaintiff George Lamb, Jr. ("Mr. Lamb") and Tracy Lamb's ("Mrs. Lamb") allegations that Mr. Lamb slipped and fell on snow and/or ice. (See ECF No. 1.) Defendants contend that the "vague and ambiguous nature of plaintiffs' Complaint precludes defendants from preparing a reasonable response." (ECF No. 9 at 2.)

         For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion for a More Definite Statement (ECF No. 8) is DENIED.

         II. Jurisdiction and Venue

         The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C § 1332 because both Plaintiffs are alleged to be citizens of the State of New York, both Defendants are alleged to be citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Plaintiffs seek damages in excess of $75, 000. (ECF No. 1 at 1, 5.) Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because a substantial portion of the alleged events or omissions giving rise to the claims occurred in the Western District of Pennsylvania. (Id. at 1-2.)

         III. Procedural Background

         Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on February 28, 2017, asserting one count of negligence brought by Mr. Lamb against both Defendants and one count for loss of consortium by Mrs. Lamb against both Defendants. (ECF No. 1).

         On May 4, 2017, Defendants filed the present Motion for a More Definite Statement and their Brief in Support of Motion for a More Definite Statement. (ECF Nos. 8, 9.) Plaintiffs filed their Response in Opposition to Defendants Motion for More Definitive Statement on June 15, 2017. (ECF No. 10.)

         Having been fully briefed, Defendants' Motion is ripe for disposition.

         IV. Legal Standard

         Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 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)(2). If a complaint is "so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading, " a party may move for a more definite statement. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). However, Rule 12(e) motions are "highly disfavored since the overall scheme of the federal rules calls for relatively skeletal pleadings and places the burden of unearthing factual details on the discovery process." A.M. Skier Agency, Inc. v. Creative Risk Services, Inc., No. Civ. A. 3:05-CV-0451, 2006 WL 167762, at *12 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 20, 2006) (quoting Hughes v. Smith, No. 03-5035, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2783, at *12 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 24, 2005); see also Schaedler v. Reading Eagle Publications, Inc., 370 F.2d 795, 798 (3d Cir. 1967) ("Although the motion for a more definite statement continues to exist in rule 12(e), it is directed to the rare case where because of the vagueness or ambiguity of the pleading the answering party will not be able to frame a responsive pleading.").

         In deciding Rule 12(e) motions, the prevailing standard employed by Third Circuit courts is to grant a Rule 12(e) motion "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]." MK Strategies, LLC, v. Ann Taylor Stores Corp., 567 F.Supp.2d 729, 737 (D.N.J. 2008) (citing Clark v. McDonald's Corp., 213 F.R.D. 198, 232-33 (D.N.J. 2003)). Rule 12(e) should not be used to obtain information "which presents a proper subject for discovery." Id. (citing Lincoln Labs., Inc. v. Savage Labs., Inc., 26 F.R.D. 141, 142-43 (D. Del. 1960)). Rule 12(e) motions should be granted based on "unintelligibility, not lack of detail." Wood & Locker, Inc. v. Doran & Assoc, 708 F.Supp. 684, 691 (W.D. Pa. 1989) (Smith, J.). Whether a Rule 12(e) motion should be granted is "a matter committed largely to the discretion of the district court." MK Strategies, 567 F.Supp.2d at 737 (citing Clark, 213 F.R.D. at 232).

         V. ...


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