On motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the complaint must be construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff with all doubts resolved in his favor and the allegation taken as true. That being so, when allegations are sufficient to sustain the defense of conditional privilege they will be, generally, sufficient to permit the introduction of evidence tending to prove abuse of the privilege or actual malice. Save in some extraordinary situation, allegations which are adequate for the admission of evidence to prove the defense of qualified privilege are adequate for the admission of evidence to negative that defense.
A citizen and resident of Puerto Rico filed an action for damages for defamation against a Delaware corporation. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and, in the alternative, to strike Paragraphs 5, 6, 7 and 8 and for a more definite statement.
Should the complaint be dismissed for failure to state a claim because a more detailed statement could not cure the failure?
The court found that the complaint failed to state that there was a publication of the alleged slanderous utterance. Nevertheless, the court determined that despite the fact that the cause of action was defectively stated, the court concluded that it did not follow that the allegations did not state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court found that defendant was entitled to a more definite statement and that certain paragraphs of the complaint should be stricken, because defendant was entitled to an absolute privilege with regard to utterances made during legislative hearings.