Legal Memorandum: Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

Issue: May a court consider materials outside the complaint on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim; Facts alleged; Exceptions
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 7 F.3d 357
Cited Statutes: Rule 12(b)(6); Rule 56
Date: 01/01/2009

Generally, in deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion the court must rely exclusively on the facts alleged in the complaint and their reasonable inferences.  In re Rockefeller Ctr. Properties, 184 F.3d at 287-88; Bostic v. AT&T, 166 F. Supp. 2d 350, 354 (D.V.I. 2001).  There are exceptions, however.  For example, attachments a plaintiff appends to the complaint are generally considered part of the complaint and may be considered.  Id. 

On the other hand, documents a defendant attaches to a motion to dismiss are not to be considered without converting the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment, unless the documents involve “[1] items of unquestioned authenticity [2] that are referred to in the challenged pleading and [3] are central or integral to the pleader’s claim for relief.”  C. Wright, A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1366, pp. 185-86 (2003); see In re Burlington Coat Factory Secs. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997); In re Donald J. Trump Casino Secs. Litig., 7 F.3d 357, 368 n.9 (3d Cir. 1993) (“a court may consider an undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff’s claims are based on that document”).  However, if the court considers any other matter, it must dispose of the motion under the provisions of Rule 56, and provide each party with notice and an opportunity to respond accordingly.  In re Rockefeller Ctr. Properties, 184 F.3d at 287-88; Bostic, 166 F. […]

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