United States District Court, D. Colorado
T. VARHOLAK, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Renewed
Motion for a More Definite Statement (the
“Motion”) [#11]. This Court has carefully
considered the Motion and related briefing, the case file and
the applicable case law, and has determined that oral
argument would not materially assist in the disposition of
the Motion. For the following reasons, the Court
DENIES the Motion.
2, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Action pursuant to the
Federal Employers' Liability Act (“FELA”)
alleging that from 1976 through 1991 Plaintiff was employed
by Defendant as a brakeman/conductor. [#1, ¶ 4] During
the course of his employment, Plaintiff alleges that he was
“exposed to various toxic substances and carcinogens
including but not limited to chemicals, solvents, diesel
fuel/exhaust, benzene, heavy metals, creosote, manganese and
rock/mineral dust and fibers.” [Id. at ¶
5] Plaintiff maintains that this exposure caused or
contributed to his development of bladder cancer.
[Id. at ¶ 6] According to the Complaint,
Plaintiff's cancer is “the result of the negligence
of the Defendant railroad in that it utilized known cancer
causing materials in its operations, which the Defendant
knew, or in the ordinary exercise of ordinary care should
have known, were deleterious, poisonous, toxic and highly
harmful to its employees' health.” [Id. at
¶ 8] The Complaint then provides eleven examples of such
negligence. [Id. at ¶ 9]
12, 2017, Defendant filed the instant Motion. Defendant
maintains that “[i]n its present form, the Complaint
lacks sufficient substantive information to allow the
Defendant to perform an adequate pre-answer investigation and
provide a meaningful answer.” [#11 at 2] Plaintiff
responded on June 14, 2017 [#13], Defendant replied on June
27, 2017 [#14], and Plaintiff provided supplemental authority
on July 13, 2017 [#21].
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e), “[a] party
may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to which
a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or
ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a
response.” “A motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(e) is generally disfavored by the Court.”
Shankar v. Wells Fargo Bank NA, No.
14-cv-02000-CMA-KLM, 2015 WL 870797, at *1 (D. Colo. Feb. 26,
2015). As such, Rule 12(e) motions are “rarely granted
unless the complaint is ‘so excessively vague and
ambiguous as to be unintelligible' or defendant would be
prejudiced in its attempt to answer it.” Id.
(quoting Greater N.Y. Auto. Dealers Ass'n v.
Env't Sys. Testing, Inc., 211 F.R.D. 71, 76
the Complaint is not so vague and ambiguous as to be
unintelligible. It asserts that Plaintiff worked as a
brakeman/conductor for Defendant for fifteen years. Through
the course of his employment, he was exposed to various toxic
substances and carcinogens. The Complaint further provides
eleven examples of Defendant's alleged negligence that
caused Plaintiff's bladder cancer.
contends that the Complaint is too vague to answer because it
does not allege the specific substances and quantities of
substances to which Plaintiff was exposed, where or exactly
when he was exposed to such substances, how the exposure
injured him and what his alleged injuries include. [#11 at
2-3] But, many of these details are in the Complaint. The
Complaint lists numerous materials that Plaintiff was exposed
to [#1 at ¶ 5], states that he was exposed during his
fifteen year employment [id. at ¶ 4], that he
was exposed while working at the La Junta Yard [id.
at ¶ 5], and that as a result of such exposure Plaintiff
suffers from bladder cancer [id. at ¶ 6]. To
the extent Defendants wish to obtain more detailed
information regarding Plaintiff's claims, such
information is readily available through discovery.
See 5C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1376 (3d ed.
2010) (noting the “overall scheme of the federal rules
calls for relatively skeletal pleadings and places the burden
of unearthing the underlying factual details on the discovery
the Defendant's Renewed Motion for a More Definite
Statement [#11] is DENIED. Defendant shall
answer the Complaint within fourteen days of the date of this
 The Court's conclusion is
bolstered by a recent decision from the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin,
Phylpo v. BNSF Railway Co., 17-cv-472-JPS (E.D. Wis.
July 7, 2017), available at #21-1. There, in a
nearly identical case with a nearly identical Complaint, the