Alliance Labs LLC v. Stratus Pharmaceuticals Incorporated et al

Filing 96

ORDER that defendant's 35 Motion for More Definite Statement is DENIED. Signed by Judge John W Sedwick on 1/23/2013.(LFIG)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 10 11 12 Alliance Labs, LLC, Plaintiff, 13 14 15 16 vs. Stratus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) 2:12-cv-00927 JWS ORDER AND OPINION [Re: Motion at Docket 35] 17 18 I. MOTION PRESENTED 19 At docket 35, defendant Stratus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Stratus” or “defendant”) 20 moves pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) for a more definite statement 21 of the complaint. Plaintiff Alliance Labs, LLC (“Alliance” or “plaintiff”) opposes at 22 docket 44, and defendant replies at docket 46. Oral argument was not requested and 23 would not assist the court. 24 II. BACKGROUND 25 Alliance is an Arizona company that markets and distributes enema products, 26 including the Enemeez Mini Enema, the Enemeez Plus Mini Enema, and the Docusol 27 Mini Enema. Stratus is a Florida corporation that markets and distributes competing 28 enema products such as the Vacuant Mini-Enema and the Vacuant Plus Mini-Enema. 1 Alliance alleges that Stratus’s Vacuant products are “knock-offs” of its Enemeez 2 products. Alliance maintains that Stratus has targeted its customers and represented 3 Vacuant products to be less expensive than the Enemeez products, but equally 4 effective. Alliance alleges that Stratus uses packaging that is virtually indistinguishable 5 from the Enemeez packaging and that Stratus copied substantial portions of the 6 Enemeez brochure to promote Vacuant products. Alliance also alleges that Stratus has 7 misrepresented the number and quantities of active ingredients in the Vacuant products. 8 9 Alliance has asserted federal claims for false advertising under § 43(a)(1)(B) of the Lanham Act (Count I), unfair competition under § 43(a)(1)(A) of the Lanham Act 10 (Count II), trademark infringement of Alliance’s registered ENEMEEZ and DOCUSOL 11 trademarks under § 32 of the Lanham Act (Count IV), and copyright infringement (Count 12 VI). Alliance has asserted state law claims for unfair competition (Count III), trademark 13 infringement (Count V), and unjust enrichment (Count VII). 14 Stratus filed this motion for a more definite statement of the complaint, arguing 15 that it is a “shotgun” pleading that fails to comply with Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal 16 Rules of Civil Procedure. It argues that it does not contain a short and plain statement 17 of the claims and contains lengthy paragraphs that are not limited to a single set of 18 circumstances. Alliance argues in response that this motion should not be allowed 19 under Rule 12(g)(2) because Stratus already brought a Rule 12 motion to dismiss. It 20 also argues that its complaint is not a “shotgun” pleading. 21 22 III. DISCUSSION This Court concludes that Stratus’s 12(e) motion is procedurally improper. Under 23 Rule 12(g)(2), a party must consolidate all Rule 12 defenses in a single pre-answer 24 motion to dismiss. Rule 12(g)(2) applies to motions for a more definite statement 25 26 27 28 -2- 1 brought under Rule 12(e).1 Therefore, Stratus waived its ability to challenge the 2 sufficiency of the complaint. 3 Stratus urges the court to use its discretion to allow a Rule 12(e) motion or sua 4 sponte order a more definite statement of the complaint, arguing that the complaint is a 5 “shotgun” pleading that cannot be adequately answered. The court declines to do so. 6 First, a Rule 12(e) motion for a more definite statement is disfavored and rarely granted 7 because of the minimal notice pleading requirements of the Federal Rules.2 A 8 Rule 12(e) motion should be “ordinarily restricted to situations where a pleading suffers 9 from unintelligibility rather than want of detail.”3 Courts will require a more definite 10 statement only when the pleading is “so vague or ambiguous that the opposing party 11 cannot respond, even with a simple denial, in good faith or without prejudice to 12 himself.”4 The court concludes that the First Amended Complaint does not suffer from 13 unintelligibility. Stratus is fairly notified of the nature of the claims and any missing 14 details could be obtained through discovery. 15 Second, Alliance’s complaint is not a shotgun complaint simply because it 16 incorporates by reference previous allegations. A shotgun complaint is one in which a 17 plaintiff brings every conceivable claim against every conceivable defendant.5 For 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 1 See DiMaria v. Silvester, 89 F. Supp. 2d 195, 196 n.5 (D. Conn. 1999) (finding a Rule 12(e) motion waived under Rule 12(g) “because defendants failed to consolidate it with their previous Rule 12 motions to dismiss”); Clark v. Associates Commercial Corp., 149 F.R.D. 629, 632 (D. Kan. 1993) (stating that Rule 12(e) motion for a more definite statement is not exempt from the rule requiring consolidation of all Rule 12 defenses and objections). 2 Margarita Cellars v. Pac. Coast Packaging, 189 F.R.D. 575, 578 (N.D. Cal. 1999); see also Castillo v. Norton, 219 F.R.D. 155, 163 (D. Ariz. 2008) (noting the limited situations in which a Rule 12(e) motion is appropriate). 25 3 Castillo, 219 F.R.D. at 163 (internal quotations omitted). 26 4 Margarita Cellars,189 F.R.D. at 578 (internal quotations omitted). 27 5 28 Gurman v. Metro. Hous. & Redevelopment Auth., 842 F.Supp.2d 1151, 1153 (D. Minn. 2011). -3- 1 example, in Shehee v. California6 the district court found the complaint to be a shotgun 2 complaint because the allegations in the complaint spanned more than twelve years, 3 encompassed three federal venues, and sought damages against more than thirty 4 named defendants, as well as “Does #1 through #100.” Alliance’s complaint is not 5 similarly broad, vague, or unintelligible. 6 IV. CONCLUSION 7 Based on the foregoing analysis, defendant’s motion at docket 35 is DENIED. 8 DATED this 23rd day of January 2013. 9 /s/ JOHN W. SEDWICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6 2010 WL 4880698, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 23, 2010). -4-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?