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.
Rule 12(e) motions are ordinarily restricted to situations where a pleading suffers from unintelligibility rather than want of detail, and if the requirements of the general rule as to pleadings are satisfied and the opposing party is fairly notified of the nature of the claim such motion is inappropriate.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Can a party make a Motion for a More Definite Statement based on want of detail?
Held. No. Motion for more definite statement denied. If the requirements of Rule 8 are satisfied and the opposing party is notified of the nature of the claim, the Rule 12(e) motion is inappropriate. A complaint need not be more specific if it is sufficient on its face and notifies the defendant of the nature of the cause of action. In the instant case, the Complaint on its face can be read to charge each of the Defendants with owning and operating facilities that discharged oil into the Delaware River. These allegations and other facts in the Complaint fairly notify the Defendant of the cause of action against them. Defendants’ use of Rule 12(e) is really an effort to flush out the government’s case.
Discussion. This case is an example of notice pleadings, which serve the primary function of providing notice to the other party. More specifically, notice pleadings provide the defendant with the cause of action.