United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
CALVIN L. WHITE, Plaintiff,
HOMER LAUGHLIN CHINA CO., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS BUT GRANTING ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR A MORE
FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
civil action arises out of alleged events that took place
while the pro se plaintiff Calvin L. White was employed
at Homer Laughlin China Co. (“Homer Laughlin”).
ECF No. 1.
Homer Laughlin then filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's
complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, a motion for a more definite
statement, asserting that plaintiff has failed to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. ECF No. 10. Defendant
contends that the handwritten complaint does not plausibly
allege any claims for relief against Homer Laughlin as
plaintiff does not plead any facts from which the Court could
infer that his employment termination was unlawful under
federal law. Further, defendant argues that plaintiff did not
serve Homer Laughlin within 90 days after filing the
complaint and, thus, the complaint must be dismissed under
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5), 4(c)(1), and
4(m). In the alternative, defendant asserts that
if the Court is not inclined to dismiss the complaint
outright, it should still require plaintiff to file a more
definite statement and/or a complaint that complies with the
requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10, insofar
as the complaint is so vague and ambiguous that Homer
Laughlin cannot formulate a response and also fails to
separate the allegations into numbered paragraphs as required
by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b).
then filed a response in opposition to defendant's
motion. ECF No. 11. In response, plaintiff states that he
does not want his case to be dismissed because he was
“discriminated by co-work[ers] and bosses” and
“was not treated fairly.” ECF No. 11 at 1.
Plaintiff asserts he has “a witness who is willing to
come to court and tell the trut[h] about everything.”
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a
defendant to raise the defense of “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted” as a motion in
response to a plaintiff's complaint before filing a
assessing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pled facts
contained in the complaint as true. Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd
v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc, 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir.
2009). However, “legal conclusions, elements of a cause
of action, and bare assertions devoid of further factual
enhancement fail to constitute well-pled facts for Rule
12(b)(6) purposes.” Id. (citing Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)). This Court also
declines to consider “unwarranted inferences,
unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” Wahi v.
Charleston Area Med. Ctr., Inc., 562 F.3d 599, 615 n.26
(4th Cir. 2009).
often been said that the purpose of a motion under Rule
12(b)(6) is to test the formal sufficiency of the statement
of the claim for relief; it is not a procedure for resolving
a contest about the facts or the merits of the case. 5B
Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 1356 (3d ed. 1998). The
Rule 12(b)(6) motion also must be distinguished from a motion
for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56, which goes to the merits of the claim and is designed to
test whether there is a genuine issue of material fact.
Id. For purposes of the motion to dismiss, the
complaint is construed in the light most favorable to the
party making the claim and essentially the court's
inquiry is directed to whether the allegations constitute a
statement of a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a). Id. § 1357.
complaint should be dismissed “if it does not allege
‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Giarratano v.
Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “Facial plausibility is established once the
factual content of a complaint ‘allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.'” Nemet
Chevrolet, 591 F.3d at 256 (quoting Iqbal, 129
S.Ct. at 1949). Detailed factual allegations are not
required, but the facts alleged must be sufficient “to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a motion for a
more definite statement, also must be filed before the
defendant files a responsive pleading. Through such a motion,
a party may request that the Court direct the plaintiff to
re-file his complaint, more clearly pleading and defining his
claims. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e),
such a motion should only be granted when a pleading is
“so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably
prepare a response.” A Rule 12(e) motion has a higher
standard than that of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion in that a
pleading which satisfies the liberal pleading standards above
described may be nonetheless appropriately challenged as
overly vague with a Rule 12(e) motion. See 5B Wright
& Miller Federal Practice and Procedure §
1356. However, the standard set forth by the wording of Rule
12(e) was not intended to require the plaintiff to state with
any high level of specificity the facts upon which his claims
rely. Hodgson v. Virginia Baptist Hosp., 482 F.2d
821, 823 (4th Cir. 1973). In fact, the drafters of the rules
only intended to ensure that sufficient facts would be pled
which allowed the defendant to reasonably form a response.
Id. Thus, the rules specifically restrict the motion
for a more definite statement to pleadings which are so
highly vague and ambiguous that the opposing party simply
cannot be expected to form a meaningful response.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8, a complaint must
include “(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds
for the court's jurisdiction[;]” (2) “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought,
which may include relief in the alternative or different
types of relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a).
the pro se plaintiff's complaint consists of
five (5) hand-written pages. The complaint is not separated
into paragraphs and is written in the form of a narrative
which centers on an alleged altercation between plaintiff and
a co-worker which purportedly took place in March 2017.
Construing the handwritten complaint liberally, the plaintiff
appears to allege that on March 23, 2017, after various
incidents with co-workers including not being permitted to
take a restroom break, being spit on, and being pushed in the
back, he was ...