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Cheramie v. Panther Helicopters, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 18, 2015

MARK CHERAMIE,
v.
PANTHER HELICOPTERS, INC., ET AL

ORDER AND REASONS

SARAH S. VANCE, District Judge.

Defendant Rolls-Royce Corporation moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) plaintiff Mark Cheramie's claim against it or, in the alternative, moves for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the motion to dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

On July 10, 2014, plaintiff Mark Cheramie sued defendants Panther Helicopters, Inc. and Rolls-Royce for their alleged involvement in a helicopter accident in which he was injured.[1] The facts surrounding the accident, as alleged in Cheramie's complaint, are as follows.

Cheramie worked for EPL Oil & Gas, Inc. on Platform 33208H in the Gulf of Mexico.[2] Panther owned and operated the helicopter used to transport EPL employees to and from the offshore oil platform.[3]

On or about August 13, 2013, plaintiff was a passenger in a helicopter departing from Platform 33208H.[4] The helicopter used an engine "designed, manufactured, and distributed" by Rolls-Royce.[5] Immediately after take off, the helicopter "lost engine power" and crashed into the navigable waters of the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, Cheramie suffered serious injuries.[6] Cheramie blames the accident on defendants' negligence, including Rolls-Royce's design and manufacture of the "defective engine."[7]

Rolls-Royce now moves the Court to dismiss Cheramie's claim against it or, in the alternative, to require plaintiff to provide a more definite statement.[8]

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motion to Dismiss

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead enough facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. A court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 239 (5th Cir. 2009).

A legally sufficient complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it must go beyond labels, legal conclusions, or formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action. Id. In other words, the face of the complaint must contain enough factual matter to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of each element of the plaintiff's claim. Lormand, 565 F.3d at 257. If there are insufficient factual allegations to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, or if it is apparent from the face of the complaint that there is an insuperable bar to relief, the claim must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

B. Motion for a More Definite Statement

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.2000). At the same time, the Supreme Court 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 ...


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