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Dioguardi v. Durning

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Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff brought an action against the Collector of Customs at the Port of New York alleging that the Collector sold his imported tonics for an improper price, and that some bottles of the tonics disappeared before the sale. Plaintiff’s original complaint was dismissed by the district court on the ground that it “failed to state facts sufficient to constitute acause of action.” Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which was also dismissed by the district court, upon Defendant’s motion, again for failure to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. Plaintiff appealed.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The pleading rules did not require Plaintiff to state “facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action.” All that is required in a complaint is a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

But, as it stands, we do not see how the plaintiff may properly be deprived of his day in court to show what he obviously so firmly believes and what for present purposes defendant must be taken as admitting.

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Facts.

Plaintiff imported bottles of “tonic” from Italy. He brought an action against the Collector of Customs at the Port of New York alleging that sales of the tonic were conducted by the Collector for an improper price, and that certain bottles of the imported tonics disappeared before the sale. Plaintiff’s original complaint was dismissed by the federal district court on the ground that it “failed to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action.” The dismissal of the original complaint was made with leave for Plaintiff to file an amended complaint, however. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint.  The amended complaint was also dismissed by the district court, upon Defendant’s motion, again for failure to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. Plaintiff appealed.

Issue.

Did the district court err in dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint?

Held.

Yes. The Plaintiff ‘s complaint sufficiently disclosed his claim that the Collector had converted or otherwise done away with the tonics and sold them in a manner incompatible with the public auction announced.

Discussion.

The court of appeals noted that the district court did not state the reason for its conclusion that that the complaint stated no claim upon which relief could be granted. The appellate court found that the plaintiff had disclosed his claim that the Collector had converted or otherwise done away with the imported tonics and sold them in a manner incompatible with public auction.


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