Campbell v. ABB Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants' motions for more definite statements are GRANTED. (Doc. Nos. 154 & 161.)IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs shall have up to and including March 25, 2015, to file a second amended co mplaint setting forth any particular product(s) or class(es) of products manufactured, distributed, or sold by Defendants Rheem Manufacturing Company and Raypack, Inc., supporting Plaintiffs' claims against them. Upon Plaintiffs' filing of the amended complaint in compliance with this Order, the Court shall deny Defendants' motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim as moot and without prejudice. Plaintiffs' failure to comply with this Order shall result in the Court granting Defendants' motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Response to Court due by 3/25/2015.) Signed by District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on March 5, 2015. (BRP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CHARLES CAMPBELL, SR., et al.,
ABB INC., et al.,
Case No. 4:14CV01489 AGF
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiffs initially filed this action in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County,
Missouri, asserting that Plaintiff Charles Campbell, Sr., has contracted lung cancer as a
result of his exposure to asbestos over a 55 year period in different locations across the
country. Defendants are all allegedly companies that have manufactured, distributed,
and/or sold asbestos or asbestos products to which Charles Campbell was exposed. The
original complaint named 51 Defendants, though several have since been dismissed.
Two Defendants, Raypack, Inc. (“Raypack”), and Rheem Manufacturing Company
(“Rheem”), now move to dismiss the cases against them under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e).
For the reasons discussed below, Defendants’ motions for a more definite statement will
Plaintiffs initiated this action on June 30, 2014, alleging that Charles Campbell
contracted lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products while
working for multiple employers in multiple locations in at least two different states
between 1957 and 2012. Defendants are all alleged to be companies that have
manufactured, distributed, and/or sold asbestos or asbestos products to which Charles
Campbell was exposed. He brings state law claims of strict liability and negligence, and
his wife claims loss of consortium. On July 28, 2014, one Defendant removed the case to
this Court based upon federal officer jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1442(a)(1) &
1446. (Doc. No. 1.)
On November 24, 2014, Raypack filed a motion to dismiss the case under Rule
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Raypack contends
that Plaintiffs’ First Amended Petition fails to plead with sufficient particularity which of
Raypack’s product(s) Charles Campbell was exposed to, and when and where the
exposure occurred. Rather, Raypack argues that the complaint “offers only ‘labels and
conclusions’ and ‘formulaic recitations’ of the elements of causes of action,” none of
which specifically link Raypack or its products to Charles Campbell’s lung cancer.
Raypack asks that the case against it be dismissed, or that in the alternative, Plaintiffs be
required to provide a more definite statement of their allegations against Raypack
pursuant to Rule 12(e). On November 25, 2014, Rheem filed a motion to dismiss, or
alternately for a more definite statement, raising nearly identical arguments to those
raised by Raypack.
On December 1, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a response to Raypack’s motion. Plaintiffs’
response reiterates the general allegations contained in the amended complaint, that
Defendants each produced asbestos-containing products which were the “direct and
proximate cause” of Charles Campbell’s lung cancer, and argues that these allegations
are sufficient to survive Defendants’ motions to dismiss. Plaintiffs close by asking that
should the Court find the complaint insufficient, it grant them leave to amend and cure
any such defects.
A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). “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). “Together these rules permit the court and the litigants to know, at the pleading
stage, who is being sued and the grounds for same, thereby facilitating the just, speedy,
and inexpensive determination of the action.” Bay Indus., Inc. v. Tru-Arx Mfg., LLC, No.
06-C-1010, 2006 WL 3469599, at *1 (E.D. Wis. Nov. 29, 2006). “The decision to grant
a motion for a more definite statement is left to the discretion of the court, as is the level
of specificity the court may require if the motion is granted.” Id.
The Court recognizes those authorities which hold that “Rule 12(e) provides a
remedy for unintelligible pleadings; it is not intended to correct a claimed lack of detail,”
however, on occasion, the two concepts coalesce – a circumstance that the Court finds
present here. See Eisenach v. Miller-Dwan Med. Ctr., 162 F.R.D. 346, 349 (D. Minn.
1995) (citation omitted). Here, the amended complaint fails to identify any specific
products manufactured by the moving Defendants, nor alleges in any fashion whatsoever
the time, manner or degree of exposure Charles Campbell had to any products produced
by the moving Defendants. This lack of information would force the moving Defendants
to compare each of their products produced during a period greater than fifty years and
guess which of them Charles Campbell had a chance of encountering. See Boggs v. Am.
Optical Co., No. 4:14–CV–1434–CEJ, 2015 WL 300509, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 22, 2015)
(dismissing an asbestos action as failing to plead with sufficient particularity because the
complaint was a “shotgun pleading” in which the plaintiff asserted multiple causes of
action against numerous defendants for actions over a 27-year period without alleging
facts specific to individual defendants); cf. Bay Indus., Inc., 2006 WL 3469599, at *2
(granting a motion for a more definite statement in a patent infringement case because the
complaint’s failure to identify a specific product forced the defendant to compare
approximately 40 products in order to formulate a response).
While discovery may provide more insight into Plaintiffs’ claims, foregoing
competent pleading pending further discovery would be abandoning this Court’s
obligation to “administer” our procedures so as to discourage wasteful pretrial activities
and “secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.” Fed. R.
Civ. P. 1. A more definite statement from Plaintiffs will focus the discovery process and
expedite the disposition of this case in an economical manner. See Eisenach, 162 F.R.D.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ motions for more definite
statements are GRANTED. (Doc. Nos. 154 & 161.)
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs shall have up to and including
March 25, 2015, to file a second amended complaint setting forth any particular
product(s) or class(es) of products manufactured, distributed, or sold by Defendants
Rheem Manufacturing Company and Raypack, Inc., supporting Plaintiffs’ claims against
them. Upon Plaintiffs’ filing of the amended complaint in compliance with this Order,
the Court shall deny Defendants’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim as moot
and without prejudice. Plaintiffs’ failure to comply with this Order shall result in the
Court granting Defendants’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
AUDREY G. FLEISSIG
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 5th day of March, 2015.
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