Arceneaux v. Blanchard Contractors Inc et al
ORDERED that 8 Motion for More Definite Statement is GRANTED. FURTHER ORDERED that Leonce P. Arceneaux II, amend his complaint no later than fourteen days of this written order. Signed by Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby. (clm, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
LEONCE P. ARCENEAUX II
BLANCHARD CONTRACTORS, ET AL.
SECTION: “G” (4)
Before the Court is Defendant, Blanchard Contractors, Inc.’s (“Defendant”) Blanchard
Contractor’s Motion for More Definite Statement Pursuant to Rule 12(e) (R. Doc. 8) seeking an
order compelling Plaintiff, Leonce P. Arceneaux (“Plaintiff”) to make a more definite statement of
his injuries, if any, he sustained as a result of the incident/occurrence described in his complaint. Id.
The motion was unopposed. (R. Doc. 32). The underlying motion was heard on the briefs on
September 11, 2013.
Plaintiff filed the instant action on June 19, 2013, in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331
and 46 U.S.C. § 30104 (“the Jones Act”). (R. Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleges that he was employed by
Defendant as a crane boat operator and as a spud boat captain. Id. Plaintiff alleges that on or around
June 21, 2012, he was assigned to remove “old paint from a platform [named K & N Block 3 – Bay
Marchan] [allegedly] owned by Chevron USA, Inc., located . . . southeast of the Port Fourchon ship
channel.” Id. at 2.
Plaintiff alleges that during the paint removal process, he was allegedly exposed to, and
“inhaled toxic-type fumes and / or smoke that emanated from the old paint layers built up in the
platform.” Id. Plaintiff’s complaint then states that the “casualties that occurred as a direct result of
the negligence of Defendants, Blanchard Contractors, Inc., and / or Chevron, USA, Inc., . . . in failing
to provide a safe work place, in failing to provide equipment aboard the vessel, and ordering [plaintiff]
to work in unsafe conditions, as well as other acts of negligence . . .” Id. at 3. Plaintiff also states that
he has incurred medical expenses for injuries sustained as a result of the “subject incident” and has not
yet been reimbursed or paid maintenance and cure. Id. at 4. Plaintiff provides no further description
of the alleged accident or injuries he sustained therein. Id.
Accordingly, Defendants filed the instant motion seeking an order from this Court compelling
Plaintiff to make a more definite statement of his injuries, if any, he sustained as a result of the
incident/occurrence described in his complaint. Id.
Standard of Review
Rule 12(e) provides that “[a] party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to
which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so expressly vague, ambiguous [or unintelligible]
that the [opposing] party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e).
Although Rule 12(e) motions are available as a remedy, motions for more definite statements
are generally disfavored because “of the liberal pleading standard set forth in Rule 8.” Cousin v.
Small, No. 00-0069, 2000 WL 1100384, at *1 (E.D. La. Aug. 4, 2000). Rule 8 simply calls for a “short
and plain statement of the claim” to give the defendant fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon
which it rests. Dubuque Barge & Fleeting Serv., Inc., v. Plaquemines Parish Gov., No. 10-0516, 2010
WL 1710372 at *2 (E.D. La. April 23, 2010); citing Acker v. Bishop, No. 06-0710, 2006 WL 1895484,
at *1 (W.D. La. Jul 10, 2006); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8; see also General Star Indem. Co. v. Vesta Fire Ins.
Co., 173 F.3d 946, 951 (5th Cir. 1999)(reasoning that Rule 8 only requires a short and plain statement
of sufficient to (1) provide (1) provide notice of the circumstances giving rise to the claim or (2) set
forth sufficient information to outline the claim elements or permit inferences to be drawn that these
Rule 12(e) provides a remedy for unintelligible pleadings, and thus is only successfully
invoked where (1) a responding party cannot reasonably respond to a pleading or (2) the pleading does
not provide sufficient notice. Dubuque, 2010 WL 1710372 at *2; Blum v. Roberts, No. 06-2307, 2006
WL 2135457, at *2 (E.D. La. Jul. 28, 2006). Therefore, a motion for a more definite statement is
inappropriate where the parties can discover additional information through discovery.
Importantly, a party may not use a Rule 12(e) motion as a substitute to discovery. Who Dat Yat Chat,
LLC v. Who Dat, Inc., No. 10-1333 c/w 10-2296, 2012 WL 2087438 (E.D. La. June 8, 2012); see also
Gibson v. Deep Delta Contractors, Inc., No. 97-3791, 2000 WL 28174, at *6 (E.D. La. Jan. 14, 2000).
Under Rule 12(e), a motion for a more definite statement “must be made before filing a
responsive pleading and must point out the defects complained of and the details desired.”
Furthermore, if the court orders a more definite statement and the non-moving party fails to comply
within ten (10) days after the order, or another court-determined time, then the court may strike the
pleading or issue an appropriate order. Id.
Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s claims should be amended in accordance with Rule 12(e) for
failing to provide a general description of the injury or harm that Plaintiff allegedly sustained as a
result of his alleged “inhalation of toxic-type smoke or fumes” (R. Doc. 8-1, p. 1).
Rule 8 requires a party provide a “short and plain statement” of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief, so as to give the opposing party notice of the claims, and provide an
adequate opportunity to respond to said claims. Dubuque, 2010 WL 1710372 at *2; Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a). Only if a pleading is unintelligible or so vague or ambiguous that ascertaining the relief is unduly
prejudicial to the defendant, is a Rule 12(e) motion for more definite statement appropriate. Coleman
v. H.C. Price Co., No. 11-2937, 2012 WL 1118775, at *6 (E.D. La. April 3, 2012).
“Notice pleading and not fact pleading, as in state court, is all that is required under the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure." Simoneaux v. Jolen Operating, Co., No. 04-2467, 2004 WL 2988506, at
*1 (E.D. La. Dec. 15, 2004). The United States Supreme Court has emphasized the liberality and
broad interpretation of pleadings under Rule 8, so as not to require "hypertechnical code-pleadings."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). However, even though "a complaint does not need
‘detailed factual allegations . . . more than labels and conclusions are necessary, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
After considering the arguments of the parties, the Court finds that as written, Plaintiff’s
complaint does not give Defendants adequate notice of the injuries that he allegedly sustained, nor
does it provide any information pertaining to the incident which allegedly caused his injuries. As
stated in Bitte v. United Cos. Lending Corp., Plaintiff should “briefly explain [the] who, what, when,
where, why, and how” of each Defendant’s wrongdoings, and how these alleged wrongdoings led to
Plaintiff’s injuries, and the extent of the injuries resulting from his alleged toxic fume inhalation. See
Verret v. North Star Marine, LLC, No. 09-3442, 2009 WL 3614502, at *2 (E.D. La., Oct. 28, 2009);
citing Bitte v. United Cos. Lending Corp., No. 06–5648, 2006 WL 3692754, at * 1 (E.D. La. Dec. 11,
Furthermore, it is not clear from the complaint which Defendant’s negligence allegedly
contributed to the incident or injuries that were sustained by the Plaintiff, and which Defendants were
responsible for the activities which allegedly caused Plaintiff’s injuries. Therefore, the Court finds that
Plaintiffs’ should amend their complaint pursuant to Rule 12(e).
IT IS ORDERED that Defendant, Blanchard Contractors, Inc.’s (“Defendant”) Blanchard
Contractor’s Motion for More Definite Statement Pursuant to Rule 12(e) (R. Doc. 8) is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff, Leonce P. Arceneaux II, (“Plaintiff”) amend his
complaint no later than fourteen days of this written order.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 20th day of September 2013.
KAREN WELLS ROBY
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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