O'Neal v. Sweepscoach
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER re: 4 MOTION for More Definite Statement filed by Defendant Sweepscoach; motion is DENIED. Signed by Magistrate Judge Abbie Crites-Leoni on 5/22/15. (CSG)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MARLIN O’NEAL, d/b/a
Case No. 1:15CV75 ACL
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This recently removed case is before the Court on Defendant Sweepscoach’s Motion for
More Definite Statement. (Doc. 4.) Plaintiff has not filed a response to Defendant’s motion.
Plaintiff filed a Verified Petition for Damages against Defendant Sweepscoach in the
Circuit Court of Scott County, Missouri, on or about April 9, 2015. (Def’s Ex. A.) Defendant
removed the action to this Court on May 5, 2015. (Doc. 1.) In the Petition, Plaintiff alleges that
he contacted Defendant in January 2014 to arrange for the purchase of electronic sweepstakes
machines (“machines”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant made representations to Plaintiff
regarding the particular type of machine that would be most suitable for Plaintiff’s situation, and
that these representations induced Plaintiff to contract with Defendant for the purchase of six
machines on February 7, 2014. Plaintiff states that he rendered payment in full for the machines
on or about February 7, 2014, in the amount of $20,072.68.
Plaintiff alleges that the machines did not function properly, rendering them completely
useless to Plaintiff. Plaintiff states that he immediately contacted Defendant, who attempted to
troubleshoot the issues, but the machines remain nonfunctional. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
sent a representative to repair the machines, but the representative was unable to repair the
machines. Plaintiff contends that, despite Defendant’s representation that Defendant would
repair the machines or refund Plaintiff’s money, Defendant has not refunded Plaintiff’s money.
Plaintiff alleges that the machines are non-merchantable and are unfit for Plaintiff’s purposes as
specifically stated by Plaintiff to Defendant.
The Petition sets forth the following claims resulting from Defendant’s alleged sale of
defective machines: breach of the sales contract between Plaintiff and Defendant, breach of the
express warranty of the sale of functional machines, breach of the implied warranty of
merchantability, and breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. Plaintiff
requests damages in the amount of $20,072.68, in addition to lost profits in the amount of $1,000
per week since the alleged breach.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e), “[a] party may move for a more definite
statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or
ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). The
motion for a more definite statement “must be made before filing a responsive pleading[.]” Id.
“Rule 12(e) is not designed to remedy an alleged lack of detail, rather, the Rule is intended to
serve as a means to remedy unintelligible pleadings.” Resolution Trust Corp. v. Fiala, 870 F.
Supp. 962, 977 (E.D. Mo. 1994). “[T]he only question is whether it is possible to frame a
response to the pleading.” Ransom v. VFS, Inc., 918 F. Supp. 2d 888, 901 (D. Minn. 2013).
In this case, Defendant argues that Plaintiff does not plead “any specifics regarding how
the machines are defective and/or non-functional.” (Doc. 4 at 2.) Defendant further argues that,
while Plaintiff pleads a breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, Plaintiff
does not plead how Plaintiff’s intended use of the purchased machine differs from the customary
use of the machines by others. Defendant contends that Plaintiff’s “broad, conclusory
allegations that the machines are ‘defective’ and/or ‘nonfunctional’ are so vague and ambiguous
that defendant Sweepscoach cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Id.
A review of the Petition shows that the Petition contains a short and plain statement of
the facts demonstrating the basis for Defendant’s liability. The Petition meets the federal notice
pleading standard of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The Petition alleges that the machines “did not function
properly, rendering them completely useless to Plaintiff.” (Ex. A & 14.) The Petition also
details the efforts made by Defendant to repair the machines. Defendant seeks an order requiring
Plaintiff to “set out with sufficient detail how the machines are defective, and/or nonfunctional.”
(Doc. 4 at 2.) The purpose of Rule 12(e) is not, however “to remedy an alleged lack of detail,”
but to “remedy unintelligible pleadings.” Resolution Trust Corp, 870 F. Supp. at 977. The
Petition is not so unintelligible, vague, or ambiguous such that Defendant cannot reasonably
frame a response. Thus, the Court will deny Sweepscoach’s motion.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion for More Definite Statement
(Doc. 4) is DENIED.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dated this 22nd day of May, 2015.
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