Pozarlik et al v. Camelback Associates, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM re 17 MOTION for More Definite Statement filed by Kathleen Simoncic, The Village at Camelback Property Owners Association, Inc. Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 3/7/12. (jam, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ARKADIUSZ PIOTR POZARLIK and
AGNIESZKA ZOFIA POZARLIK,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:11-CV-1349
CAMELBACK ASSOCIATES, INC. t/d/b/a
THE VILLAGE AT CAMELBACK; THE
VILLAGE AT CAMELBACK PROPERTY
OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC.;
KATHLEEN SIMONCIC; QUEENSBORO
FLOORING P.A. CORPORATION,
QUEENSBORO PROFESSIONAL WOOD
FLOORING, LLC; TOMAS
KORYTKOWSKI; BELLA CHERNOV, and
JOHN DOE NOS. 1-6
Defendants, The Village at Camelback Property Owners Association, Inc. and
property manager, Kathleen Simoncic (collectively “Defendants”), move for a more definite
statement of Plaintiffs Arkadiusz and Agnieszka Pozarlik’s (collectively “Plaintiffs”) Second
Amended Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) or to dismiss the
complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). (Doc 17.) Defendants assert that the
amended complaint lacks sufficient detail to permit Defendants to answer the complaint in
good faith. Alternatively, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs’ claim for negligence fails to state
a claim for which relief can be granted. Because Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint is
sufficiently specific and adequately states a claim for negligence against Defendants,
Defendants’ motion will be denied.
The Pozarliks’ allege as follows:
This suit arises out of a tragic fire that occurred during a home remodeling. The
Village at Camelback Property Owners Association, Inc. is a non-profit corporation
incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At all times relevant to this action,
Kathleen Simoncic was the property manager hired by the Property Owners Association.
Ms. Simoncic’s responsibilities included caring and maintaining all of the dwelling units,
common areas, and road within the community.
In the summer of 2009, work was being performed in Unit 298 by Queensboro
Flooring P.A. Corp. and/or Queensboro Professional Wood Flooring, LLC.
Arkadiusz Pozarlik was hired by the Queensboro companies to sand, clean, and refinish the
floor in Unit 298, which is owned by Defendant Bella Chernov. On July 22, 2009,
Queensboro removed a heater in the unit from the pipe to which it was attached without
properly securing the propane gas or gas line. That same day, there was an explosion and
fire in the unit. Mr. Pozarlik, who was inside Unit 298 working on the floors at the time, was
In their complaint against The Village at Camelback Property Owners Association
and Ms. Simoncic, the Pozarliks assert that Defendants “were responsible for taking all
steps necessary to ensure the health and safety of all owners and/or residents of The
Village at Camelback and all business invitees and others lawfully on the premises.” (Pl.
Sec. Am. Compl. ¶ 44. (Doc. 14).)
According to Plaintiffs, “Section 3302(a) of the
Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act, 68 Pa. C.S. § 3302(a), confers broad powers on
the condominium units owners’ association, including the power to regulate the use,
maintenance, repair and modification of residential units.” Id. at ¶ 38. Plaintiffs assert that
the Property Owners Association “enjoyed all of the powers conferred upon a condominium
unit owners’ association by Section 3302(a) of the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium
Act.” Id. at ¶ 39. Plaintiffs further assert that “the Declaration provides that maintenance
and repairs to dwelling units are the responsibility of the Property Owners Association and
its designated Management Agent.” Id. at ¶ 40.
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants’ negligent acts, include, inter alia:
(a) permitting unqualified workmen to perform repairs, alterations, remodeling,
and/or renovation to be performed to Unit 298;
(b) failing to prescribe the manner in which repairs, alterations, remodeling
and/or renovation to be performed to Unit 298;
(c) failing to supervise and monitor the performance of repairs, alterations,
remodeling and/or renovation to be performed to Unit 298;
(d) failure to enforce rules and regulations regarding storage and use of
(e) failure to remove from the premises incompetent workers which it know or
should have known presented a danger to themselves, the dwelling units, and
the residents of the Village;
(f) failure to ensure that Unit 298 was equipped with a functioning sprinkler
(g) failure to ensure that Unit 298 had a functioning smoke detector system;
(h) failure to ensure that Unit 298 had a functioning fire alarm system;
(i) failure to warn Plaintiff and others that Unit 298 lacked adequate sprinkler,
smoke detector and fire alarm system;
(j) failing to establish an adequate safety program for construction work
performed on the condominium premises and dwelling units;
(i) violation of applicable federal, state and local statutes and regulations;
condominium rules and regulations;
(k) such other negligence, if any, that will be ascertained during discovery.
Id. at ¶ 46.1
Based on the allegations of ¶¶ 36-40 and ¶ 46 of the Second Amended Complaint,
Defendants filed a motion for a more definite statement or, alternatively, to dismiss the
negligence claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The motion has been briefed and is ripe
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e)
Rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to move for a more
definite statement of a pleading “which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot
reasonably prepare a response.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). Like Rule 12(b)(6), Rule 12(e) must
be read in conjunction with Rule 8, which requires only a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. Even after the
Supreme Court's ruling in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), courts have held that “[t]he
class of pleadings that are appropriate subjects for a motion under Rule 12(e) is quite
small—the pleading must be sufficiently unintelligible for the court to be able to make out
one or more potentially viable legal theories on which the claimant might proceed.” Lapcevic
v. Strive Enterprises, Inc., No. 2:09-cv-564, 2010 WL 1816752, at *7 (W.D.Pa. Apr. 8, 2010)
(quoting Sun Co. v. Badger Design & Constructors, 939 F.Supp. 365, 368 (E.D.Pa.1996)).
Granting a Rule 12(e) motion is appropriate only when the pleading is “so vague or
Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint also contains a claim for loss of consortium against
Defendants. Defendants, however, have not moved for a more definite statement or to dismiss the
ambiguous that the opposing party cannot respond, even with a simple denial, in good faith,
without prejudice to itself.” Sun Co., 939 F.Supp. at 368.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint,
in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal
is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has
not pleaded “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face,” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), meaning enough factual allegations “‘to raise
a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of’” each necessary element,
Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring a
complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In
light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only “‘give the defendant
fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’” Erickson v. Pardus,
551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “[T]he factual
detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant
[with] the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8.” Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232;
see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir.
In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the
complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension
Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The
Court may also consider “undisputedly authentic” documents when the plaintiff’s claims are
based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the
motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were
not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256,
263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint’s “‘bald assertions’” or “‘legal conclusions,’”
Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In re Burlington
Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997)). “While legal conclusions
can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009).
When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court’s role is limited to determining
if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of her claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes,
416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately
prevail. See id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff’s complaint
fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).
In Pennsylvania, a claim for negligence is established by proving the following four
elements: “(1) a duty or obligation recognized by law; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) a causal
connection between the conduct and the resulting injury; and (4) actual damages.” Estate
of Swift by Swift v. Northeastern Hosp., 456 Pa.Super. 330, 690 A.2d 719 (1997). The
primary element in any negligence cause of action is that the defendant owes a duty of care
to the plaintiff. See Gibbs v. Ernst, 538 Pa. 193, 210, 647 A.2d 882, 890 (1994). However,
the concept of duty of care does not lend itself to strict, mathematical application, but is
rather “necessarily rooted in often amorphous public policy considerations, which may
include the court's perception of history, morals, justice and society.” Althaus ex rel. Althaus
v. Cohen, 562 Pa. 547, 553, 756 A.2d 1166 (2000) (internal citation omitted).
Motion for More Definite Statement
As Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint sufficiently satisfies Rule 12(e),
Defendants’ motion for a more definite statement will be denied.2 Here, Defendants argue
that a more definite statement is required because the Second Amended Complaint “alleges
certain acts of the association and it’s property manager caused plaintiff’s accident without
specifying what acts, where, and when.” (Defs.’ Mot. ¶ 10 (Doc. 17).)
contention, however, is without merit. Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint identifies the
date on which Plaintiff was injured, how the Plaintiff was injured, and where the Plaintiff was
injured. Furthermore, the Second Amended Complaint alleges, in detail, the negligent acts
performed by the Property Owners Association and Ms. Simoncic. (Pl. Sec. Am. Compl.
¶ 46. (Doc. 14).) As such, this is not one of the rare cases where the pleading is so
“unintelligible” that the Court cannot “make out one or more potentially viable legal theories
on which the claimant might proceed.” Lapcevic, 2010 WL 1816752, at *7.
Motion to Dismiss
Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ negligence claim will also be denied. Here,
the Second Amended Complaint sufficiently alleges all necessary elements of a negligence
claim under Pennsylvania law. Particularly, Plaintiffs allege that a duty was imposed on
Defendants’ motion for a more definite statement appears to rely on the Court’s November
30, 2011 Memorandum and Order. (Doc. 13.) The Court granted Defendants Queensboro
Professional Wood Flooring and its owner, Tomasz Korytkowski’s motion for a more definite
statement because the First Amended Complaint alleged defendants were negligent in failing to
exercise reasonable care “including, but not limited to” twelve different theories of liability. Here,
the negligence claim as to Defendants does not contain such broad and sweeping allegations. As
such, Plaintiffs have sufficiently put Defendants on notice of their alleged acts of negligence.
Defendants pursuant to the condominium community’s Declaration and that Defendants
were responsible for the general maintenance and construction work performed in the
dwelling units. (Pl. Sec. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 41-44) (Doc. 14).) Plaintiffs allege that Defendants
breached this duty by failing to ensure that the remodeling and renovations on Unit 298
were performed safely and by qualified contractors. Id. at ¶ 46. And, Plaintiffs allege that
Defendants’ conduct caused Plaintiff to suffer severe injuries. Id. at ¶¶ 47-51. Plaintiffs’
allegations are sufficient “‘to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence of’” each necessary element of a negligence claim. Phillips v. County of Allegheny,
515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Defendants’ motion to dismiss will be denied.
For the above reasons, Defendants’ motion (Doc. 17) will be denied. Defendants,
The Village at Camelback Property Owners Association and Kathleen Simoncic, will be
given twenty-one (21) days to answer the Second Amended Complaint.
An appropriate order follows.
March 7, 2012
/s A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District Judge
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