United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
D. CAIN, JR. Judge.
KATHLEEN KAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is a Motion for a More Definite Statement filed by
Hoot Systems, LLC (“Hoot”). Doc. 9. The motion is
opposed by Comal Concrete Products, Inc.
(“Comal”). Doc. 11. For the reasons that follow,
the motion is DENIED.
filed suit in state court against Comal alleging, inter alia,
breach of contract and sums due on open account. Doc. 1, att.
4, pp. 5-12. On July 24, 2019, Comal removed the suit to this
court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. Doc. 1. On July 31, 2019, Comal filed an Answer
and Counterclaim. Doc. 6. In its counterclaim, Comal alleges
violation of the Robinson-Patman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 13,
sums due on open account, and defamation. Id.
motion before the court Hoot alleges that the claims for
violation of the Robinson-Patman Act and for defamation in
Comal's counterclaim are “ambiguous and fail to
contain sufficient information such that Hoot is unable to
draft responsive pleadings and to identify relevant
defenses.” Doc. 9, att. 1, p. 4. In opposition, Comal
maintains that its counterclaim provides sufficient
specificity and adequate notice of its claims for relief such
that Hoot can frame a response.
should grant a motion for a more definite statement pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e) when the pleading at issue “is so
vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a
response.” The motion must state the defects in the
pleading and the details desired. Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 12(e).
Comal notes in opposition to the motion, such motions should
not be used as a substitute for discovery and are generally
disfavored due to the liberal pleading standards set forth in
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Mitchell
v. E-Z Way Towers, Inc., 269 F.2d 126, 132 (5th Cir.
1959). Rather, Rule 12(e) allows a party to request
clarification when the pleadings do not “specify the
allegations in a manner that provides sufficient
notice” to the defense. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema,
N.A., 122 S.Ct. 992, 998 (2002). “Rule 12(e)
motions, though disfavored, are necessary when the pleadings
are unintelligible rather than suffer from a want of
detail.” Tipton v. Reynolds, 2013 WL 4854372,
*2 (E.D. La. Sep. 10, 2013) (citations omitted). The decision
to grant a Rule 12(e) motion is within the discretion of the
trial court, and such motions are “universally deemed
appropriate only when the pleading addressed is so vague it
cannot be responded to.” Newcourt Leasing Corp. v.
Regional Bio-Clinical Laboratory, Inc., 2000 WL 134700,
*1 (E.D. La. Feb. 1, 2000) (citation omitted).
alleges that the counterclaim in this matter is deficient,
and in need of a more definite statement under Rule 12(e),
for two reasons: (1) the pleading is indefinite and general,
and (2) it fails to set forth sufficient certainty of detail
to apprise Hoot of a factual basis of the causes of action.
Doc. 9, att. 1, p. 2. Specifically, it alleges that
Paragraphs 10 and 11 of Comal's Robinson-Patman
counterclaim make only broad, vague assertions of actions of
Hoot with little or no reference to specific times or
products involved. Id. at p. 5. It also alleges that
Paragraphs 20 and 21 of Comal's defamation claim fail to
plead “specific words, specific publication, and
specific plausible facts supporting an allegation of falsity,
malice or fault.” Id. at. p. 7.
contends that its counterclaim identifies that essential
elements for claims under both the Robinson-Patman Act and
for defamation and a “reasonable party” would not
be “left guessing the nature of the causes of action or
their underlying factual bases.” Doc. 11, p. 2. We
reviewed the counterclaim filed by Comal and find that it
sets forth the parties to the suit, a short description of
its legal theories of recovery, a more detailed description
of its allegations concerning its claims for violation of the
Robinson-Patman Act and for defamation, and the relief it
seeks. See Doc. 6. Comal's counterclaim is
sufficiently detailed to allow the Hoot to formulate a
responsive pleading. Any further detail ...