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Miami Valley Paper, LLC v. Lebbing Engineering & Consulting GMBH

October 10, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: S. Arthur Spiegel United States Senior District Judge


This matter is before the Court on Defendant Lebbing Engineering's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings (doc. 19), Plaintiff Miami Valley Paper's Memorandum in Opposition (doc. 26), and Defendant's Reply in Support (doc. 28). For the reasons stated herein, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings.

I. Background

The facts in this case, taken from the Plaintiff's second amended complaint, are as follows. Plaintiff, Miami Valley Paper, LLC, is a Delaware company with its principal place of business in Franklin, Ohio (doc. 23). Defendant, Lebbing Engineering & Consulting GMBH, is a German limited liability company with its principal place of business in Germany (Id.). In the Spring of 2003, Plaintiff entered into a contract to purchase a used paper winder for $155,000.00 from Defendant to use at their Franklin, Ohio facility (Id.). Plaintiff specified the desired model and Defendant subsequently shipped the winder to the United States (Id.).

Plaintiff made partial payments on the winder until the item was received, at which point they ceased payments (Id.). Plaintiff claims that the winder did not conform to the requested specifications (doc. 15). Upon receiving the winder, Plaintiff notified Defendant that they rejected the machine (Id.). Then, Plaintiff sold the winder at public auction for One Thousand Dollars to one of its affiliates (Id.). Plaintiff claims it spent an additional One Thousand Dollars to have the winder auctioned (Id.).

Plaintiff filed its initial Complaint on October 28, 2005, which stated Defendant's principal place of business as New Jersey (doc. 1). On January 25, 2006, Plaintiff amended their Complaint, changing Defendant's principal place of business to Germany (doc. 4). On January 20, 2006 Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint, alleging six causes of action: 1) breach of contract; 2) breach of express warranty; 3) breach of warranty of fitness for a particular purpose; 4) unjust enrichment; 5) fraudulent inducement; and 6) negligent misrepresentation (doc. 23). Defendant now moves for partial judgment on the pleadings on Counts IV-VI (docs. 19, 28).

II. Applicable Legal Standard

"The standard of review applicable to a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is the same de novo standard that is applicable to a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)." United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1099 v. City of Sidney, 364 F.3d 738, 745 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Ziegler v. IBP Hog Mkt., 249 F.3d 509, 11-12 (6th Cir. 2001)). A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) requires the Court to determine whether a cognizable claim has been pleaded in the complaint. The basic federal pleading requirement is contained in Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), which states that, a pleading "shall contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Westlake v. Lucas, 537 F.2d 857, 858 (6th Cir. 1976). In its scrutiny of the complaint, the Court must construe all well-pleaded facts liberally in favor of the party opposing the motion. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 1687 (1974). Rule 8(a)(2) operates to provide the defendant with "fair notice of what plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99 (1957). A court examines a complaint in light of the objectives of Rule 8 using the standard articulated in Jones v. Sherrill, 827 F.2d 1102, 1103 (6th Cir. 1987):

In reviewing a dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint. Windsor v. The Tennessean, 719 F.2d 155, 158 (6th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 826 (1984). The motion to dismiss must be denied unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim which would entitle her to relief. Id. at 158; Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957).

Jones, 824 F.2d at 1103.

The admonishment to liberally construe a plaintiff's claim when evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal does not relieve a plaintiff of his obligation to satisfy federal notice pleading requirements and allege more than bare assertions of legal conclusions. Wright, Miller & Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure: § 1357 at 596 (1969). "In practice, a complaint . . . must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all of the material elements [in order] to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1054 (1985) (quoting In Re: Plywood Antitrust Litigation, 655 F.2d 627, 641 (5th Cir. 1981), cert. dismissed, 462 U.S. 1125 (1983)); see also Sutliffe, Inc. v. Donovan Companies, Inc., 727 F.2d 648, 654 (7th Cir. 1984); Wright, Miller & Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure: § 1216 at 121-23 (1969)). The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit clarified the threshold set for a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal:

[W]e are not holding the pleader to an impossibly high standard; we recognize the policies behind Rule 8 and the concept of notice pleading. A plaintiff will not be thrown out of court for failing to plead facts in support of every arcane element of his claim. But when a complaint omits facts that, if they existed, would clearly dominate the case, it seems fair to assume that those facts do not exist.

Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 437 ...

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