Bell v. Novick Transfer Co.

17 F.R.D. 279 (D. Md. 1955)

 

RULE:

Although some courts have held that a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e) is the correct procedure to follow if a party needs further information to prepare his defense, the better rule of law is that such information should be obtained by interrogatories under Fed. R. Civ. P. 33, or other discovery procedure, unless it is really necessary to enable the party to frame his responsive pleading.

FACTS:

Plaintiffs, infant and parents, filed a tort action based on allegations that a truck owned and operated by defendants, corporation, individual, and agent, was being operated in a careless, reckless, and negligent manner and that such negligence was the direct cause of the infant's injury arising from an accident. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or for a more definite statement under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). The declaration alleged that while the infant was riding in an automobile on certain public highways, the automobile was run into and struck by the tractor-trailer truck owned by defendants and operated by the agent in a careless, reckless, and negligent manner so that the infant was injured. The declaration also alleged that the infant's injuries and damages were the direct result of the negligence on the part of defendants without any negligence on the part of the plaintiffs contributing thereto. The court denied defendants' motion to dismiss and for a more definite statement. 

ISSUE:

Did the trial court err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or for a more definite statement under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e)?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court reasoned that, although the declaration might not be sufficient under state practice, it met the requirements, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8, of a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Further, defendants were not entitled to a more definite statement by motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). The court explained that defendants could obtain by interrogatories or other discovery procedure the facts upon which plaintiffs based their allegations that the truck was being operated in a careless, reckless, and negligent manner.

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