Brief Fact Summary. The SICO Company and North American Smelting Company (Defendants) filed a Motion for More Definite Statement on grounds that the Complaint filed against them was so vague and ambiguous that they were unable to frame a responsive pleading.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Motion for More Definite Statement is applicable in situations where pleadings are unintelligible.
Facts. The Complaint filed by the United States Government (Plaintiff) alleged that Defendants owned and operated facilities near the Wilmington Marine Terminal from which oil was discharged into the Delaware River. The discharge of oil into navigable rivers is prohibited by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The owner of the facility responsible for the discharge of oil can be held liable to Plaintiff in the amount of actual costs incurred for the removal of such oil. Defendants contend that the Complaint is deceptively vague because it fails to state which Defendants are responsible for the discharge of oil, the amount of oil discharged, and the removal costs incurred, and the actions which are alleged to have caused the discharge. The Defendants moved for a more definite statement under Rule 12 (e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which is typically restricted to situations when pleadings are unintelligible rather than lacking detail.
Issue. Can a party make a Motion for a More Definite Statement based on want of detail?