I think I might have made a Motion for a More Definite Statement. If I did that, I did it only once, and I can't remember the result. Asking for a more definite statement is a rarely used litigation maneuver, allowed by Rule 12(e) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.
The Defendant in the NC Business Court case of Shaw v. Shaw made a Rule 12(e) Motion but it was rejected in an Order yesterday by Judge Bledsoe. The Judge said:
Motions for a more definite statement are not favored by the courts and are 'sparingly granted because pleadings may be brief and lacking in factual detail, and because of the extensive discovery devices available to the movant.' Ross v. Ross, 33 N.C.App. 447, 454, 235 S.E.2d 405, 410 (1977) (citations omitted) [an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers]. As long as the pleading meets the standards of N.C.R.C.P. Rule 8 and the opposing party is adequately notified of the nature of the claim, a motion for more definite statement will be denied. Id.
Order ¶10 (emphasis added).
If you are curious about the allegations in the Complaint which were alleged to be too indefinite to allow a response, they were paragraphs 25(e) and (j), which concerned the Defendant's claimed making of unauthorized loans and payment of excessive compensation.
Judge Bledsoe ordered that the allegations fairly notified the Defendant of the claims against him, given the notice pleading requirements of Rule 8.
What about Complaints that go beyond the notice pleading requirements of Rule 8, that have too much detail? That's a different kettle of fish. I've more often made a Rule 8(e) Motion, arguing that a Complaint violated Rule 8 because it was not "concise and direct." But that's mainly because I like the word "prolix." You don't get to use it very often.
Read other articles on the North Carolina Business Litigation Report, a blog for lawyers focusing on issues of North Carolina business law and the day-to-day practice of business litigation in North Carolina courts.
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