United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Ryan Herrera, Plaintiff,
Donald R. Rector, et. al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: GEORGE LINDBERG, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Ryan Herrara's third amended complaint alleges claims
against defendants Donald R. Rector (hereafter "Rector") and
Hooters of Lansing, Inc. (hereafter "defendant") for negligence;
assault and battery; false imprisonment; and negligent training,
hiring and operation of its business. Defendant has filed a
motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Fed.R. Civ.
P. 10(b) and 12(b)(6) and in the alternative, for a more
definite statement pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(e).
Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiff alleges that on May 3, 2003, Rector, while acting as
an agent, servant, representative or employee of defendant,
negligently caused injury to plaintiff, committed assault and
battery upon plaintiff, and falsely imprisoned plaintiff.
Furthermore, plaintiff claims that on and prior to May 3, 2003,
defendant was negligent in its training and hiring of Rector and
was otherwise negligent in the operation of its business leading
to plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiff does not assert a claim for
respondeat superior liability against defendant at this time.
Thus, plaintiff's only claims against defendant are for negligent
training, hiring and operation of its business. Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to file a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When considering a
motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded
facts and draw all reasonable inferences from those allegations
in the plaintiff's favor. MCM Partners, Inc. v. Andrews-Bartless
& Assocs., Inc., 62 F.3d 967, 972 (7th Cir. 1995). The court
must consider "whether relief is possible under any set of facts
consistent with the allegations of the plaintiff's complaint."
Pokuta v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 191 F.3d 834, 839 (7th
Cir. 1999). Furthermore, the defendant has the burden on a motion
to dismiss to establish the legal insufficiency of the
plaintiff's complaint. Yeksigian v. Nappi, 900 F.2d 101,
104-105 (7th Cir. 1990).
Defendant first argues that plaintiff has failed to allege any
facts supporting his claims and there are no facts consistent
with his complaint sufficient to state a claim. Defendant argues
that under Illinois law plaintiff must allege that defendant
Rector was unfit, giving rise to a particular danger of harm to
third parties, and that the injury was foreseeable. The 7th
Circuit has consistently held that there is no requirement in the
federal rules for pleading the facts or elements of a claim, with
the exception of the matters listed in Rule 9. Walker v.
Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1007 (7th Cir. 2002), contra Twardy v.
Northwest Airlines, 2001 WL 199567 (N.D. Ill.). Rather, a
pleading is sufficient to give a defendant adequate notice of the
claim when indicating the general purpose, the parties involved,
and the approximate date of the occurrence. Id. Plaintiff's
third amended complaint does state the general purpose of the
claims, the relevant parties, and the date of the occurrence in
question. Defendant also argues that plaintiff's claims of negligent
hiring and training are insufficient legal conclusions, and that
these claims must be dismissed because the complaint does not
state any facts that support these conclusions. However, the 7th
Circuit has held that details of fact and law belong in documents
succeeding the complaint. Bartholet v. Reishauer,
953 F.2d 1073, 1078 (7th Cir. 1992). Furthermore, contrary to defendant's
suggestion that the claims be dismissed because the legal
conclusions are incorrect, plaintiff need not identify any legal
theory in the complaint, and stating an incorrect legal theory is
not fatal. Id. The third amended complaint is sufficient to
give defendant adequate notice of plaintiff's claims and to pass
muster under the liberal pleading requirements applicable in
federal court. Therefore, defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant
to Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) is denied.
Defendant further contends that plaintiff's complaint "violates
Federal Rules of Procedure 10(b) . . . [and] the pleading of
different theories in the same paragraph is improper under the
federal rules." Defendant argues that the complaint should be
dismissed because the claims are not presented in separate
paragraphs. Federal Rules of Procedure 10(b) states that "each
claim founded upon a separate transaction or occurrence . . .
shall be stated in a separate count or defense whenever
separation facilitates the clear presentation of the matters set
forth." Fed.R. Civ. P. 10(b). Pursuant to Rule 10(b), separate
statements of claims may be required where there are several
defendants in a single complaint. Plummer v. Chicago Journeyman
Plumbers' Local Union, 452 F. Supp. 1127, 1144 (N.D. Ill. 1978).
However, the main consideration is whether the claims are clear
enough to give notice of the allegations to defendant. Id.
While defendant correctly argues that courts retain the power to
order compliance with Rule 10(b), exercise of this power is left
to the court's discretion. Three D Departments, Inc. v. K Mart Corp., 670 F. Supp. 1404, 1409 (N.D. Ill. 1987).
Plaintiff has separated each defendant's potential liability into
two separate paragraphs in the complaint. Plaintiff lists all the
claims alleged against Rector in paragraph 5 of the complaint,
and plaintiff lists all claims alleged against defendant in
paragraph 6. The claims are presented clearly and in accordance
with Rule 10(b). Defendant has adequate notice of the relevant
allegations. Therefore, defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R. Civ. P. 10(b) is denied.
Defendant has also moved for a more definite statement pursuant
to Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(e). A motion for a more definite
statement will be granted when "the pleading is so vague or
ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a
responsive pleading." Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(e). The Court will
consider the movant's ability to prepare a responsive pleading
and whether the movant would be prejudiced by attempting to
answer the pleading without a more definite statement of the
claims alleged. See UNR Industries, Inc. v. Continental Ins.
Co., 607 F. Supp. 855, 868 (N.D. Ill. 1984). Tension exists
between the lenient pleading standards of Rule 8 and the degree
of specificity necessary to respond to allegations in a
complaint. See Robinson v. Midlane Club, 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
14790 (N.D. Ill., 1994).
Defendant has asked that plaintiff set forth the times and
locations of the events; details concerning how Rector allegedly
caused injury to plaintiff; details supporting plaintiff's
conclusion that Rector acted as defendant's agent or employee;
and how defendant was negligent in its training and hiring of
Rector in a more definite statement. To allow defendant to
sufficiently respond to the complaint, plaintiff should set forth
the location and time of the event and facts as to how plaintiff
was allegedly injured. Defendant would be prejudiced in preparing
a response to this pleading if these facts were not available. As
to the details concerning Rector's employment and defendant's negligent training and hiring, these
facts are more appropriately handled in discovery. Defendant's
request for an order requiring plaintiff to set forth a more
definite statement is therefore granted in part and denied in
ORDERED: Defendant Hooters of Lansing, Inc.'s Motion to
Dismiss and alternatively Motion for a More Definite Statement
 is granted in part and denied in part. The request for
dismissal is denied. The request for a more definite statement is
granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff shall, on or before
9/24/2004, file a more definite statement as to the location and
time of the event and as to how plaintiff was allegedly injured.
Defendant's answer shall be due on or before 10/8/2004.
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