David v. C and G Boats, Inc.
ORDER AND REASONS - the Court DENIES defendants' Motion 16 for a More DefiniteStatement.. Signed by Chief Judge Sarah S. Vance on 9/18/15. (jjs)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
C AND G BOATS, INC.
ORDER AND REASONS
Defendants M N M Boats, Inc., and A & A Boats, Inc., move the Court for a more
definite statement of plaintiff Carlos David’s claim for damages under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(e).1 For the following reasons, the Court denies the motion.
On May 15, 2015, plaintiff Carlos David filed this seaman’s complaint for damages
following an accident aboard the M/V MS. JANE which caused David injuries.2 David
originally sued C and G Boats, Inc., alleging that C and G Boats owned and operated the
M/V MS. JANE at the time of David’s accident.3
On July 10, 2015, David amended his complaint, removing all references to C and
G Boats and adding defendants M N M Boats, Inc., A & A Boats, Inc., and Chet Morrison
Contractors, LLC.4 A fair reading of David’s amended complaint sets forth the following
See R. Doc. 16.
See R. Doc. 1.
Id. at 2.
See R. Doc. 13.
At all relevant times, A & A Boats owned the M/V MS. JANE.5 David was employed
by M N M Boats as a Jones Act seaman.6 At the time of the accident on April 3, 2015, M N
M Boats operated and/or controlled the M/V MS. JANE.7 Chet Morrison Contractors was
performing certain crane operations aboard the M/V MS. JANE at the time of David’s
accident.8 As a result of the accident, David injured his back, knee, and other parts of his
David alleges that A & A Boats, M N M Boats, and Chet Morrison Contractors were
jointly negligent in causing his injuries and are therefore jointly liable for David’s damages.
As to A & A Boats and M N M Boats, David specifically alleges breach of the duty of
reasonable care; failure to provide a reasonably safe place to work; failure to train and
supervise; failure to take means or precautions to ensure their employees’ safety;
unseaworthiness; failure to provide minimum safety requirements; failure to provide
adequate equipment; and failure to provide adequate personnel.10 As to Chet Morrison
Contractors, David specifically alleges breach of the duty of reasonable care, including the
operation of the crane used at the time of David’s injury; failure to maintain control of the
crane; failure to train and supervise its employees; failure to take means or precautions to
ensure David’s safety; failure to provide minimum safety requirements; failure to provide
Id. at 3.
Id. at 2.
Id. at 3.
See id. at 4.
Id. at 3.
See id. at 4.
adequate equipment; failure to provide adequate personnel; and failure to adhere to the
safety requirements specific in its contract regarding crane operations.11
On July 29, 2015, M N M Boats and A & A Boats moved the Court to require David
to more definitely state his claim. Defendants argue that David’s complaint fails to comply
with the pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) and is so vague as
to prevent a reasonable response.12 David opposes the motion.13
A district court will grant a motion for a more definite statement pursuant to Rule
12(e) when the pleading at issue “is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably
be required to frame a responsive pleading.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). The motion must state
the defects in the pleading and the details desired. See id. A party, however, may not use
a Rule 12(e) motion as a substitute for discovery. Mitchell v. E–Z Way Towers, Inc., 269
F.2d 126, 132 (5th Cir.1959). Given the liberal pleading standard set forth in Rule 8, Rule
12(e) motions are disfavored. See Mitchell, 269 F.2d at 132; Gibson v. Deep Delta
Contractors, Inc., No. 97–3791, 2000 WL 28174, at *6 (E.D. La. Jan. 14, 2000). At the
same time, the Supreme Court has noted that “[i]f a pleading fails to specify the allegations
in a manner that provides sufficient notice,” then a Rule 12(e) motion may be appropriate.
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002). In deciding whether to grant a
Rule 12(e) motion, the trial judge is given considerable discretion. Newcourt Leasing Corp.
See id. at 5.
See R. Doc. 16; R. Doc. 16-1.
R. Doc. 17.
v. Regional Bio–Clinical Lab, Inc., No. 99–2626, 2000 WL 134700, at *1 (E.D. La. Feb. 1,
The Court finds David’s complaint sufficient to withstand defendants’ Rule 12(e)
motion. A complaint is considered inadequate under the “notice” pleading requirements
of Rule 8(a) only if it wholly fails to “(1) provide notice of circumstances which give rise to
the claim, or (2) set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of the claim or
permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist.” Beanal v. Freeport-McMoran,
Inc., 197 F.3d 161, 164 (5th Cir. 1999) (citing Gen. Star Indem., Co. v. Vesta Fire Ins., Corp.,
173 F.3d 946, 950 (5th Cir. 1999)). Defendants argue that David’s complaint lacks
sufficient information because he does not allege (1) the details of the accident, (2) the
manner in which he believes the M/V MS. JANE, its equipment, or its crew were
unseaworthy, or (3) the nature of his alleged physical injuries.14 While David’s complaint
is not a model of clarity, this information can be readily obtained through discovery.
Because a party may not use a Rule 12(e) motion as a substitute for discovery, and because
Rule 12(e) motions are disfavored, the Court denies defendants’ motion for a more definite
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES defendants’ Motion for a More Definite
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _______ day of September, 2015.
SARAH S. VANCE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
R. Doc. 16-1 at 3.
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