Legal Memorandum: Pleading an Unjust Enrichment Claim in FL

Issue: How does a plaintiff in federal court in Florida plead a claim for unjust enrichment?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Unjust enrichment claim; Pleading
Jurisdiction: Federal, Florida
Cited Cases: 660 F.2d 594; 728 So. 2d 297; 622 So. 2d 988; 290 So. 2d 65; 866 F.2d 1380; 582 So. 2d 15
Cited Statutes: Rule 15(b); Rule 8(a)(2)
Date: 04/01/2001

          First, “[t]he Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a plaintiff to plead legal theories.”  Vidimos, Inc. v. Laser Lab Ltd., 99 F.3d 217, 222 (7th Cir. 1996); see Sams v. United Food & Commercial Workers, 866 F.2d 1380, 1384 (11th Cir. 1989) (a complaint need not specify in detail the precise legal theory giving rise to recovery); Dussorey v. Gulf Coast Inv. Corp., 660 F.2d 594, 604 (5th Cir. 1981) (the form of the complaint is not significant if it alleges facts upon which relief can be granted, even if it fails to categorize the legal theory giving rise to the claim).  Moreover, pleading a formal “cause of action” is unnecessary.  See 5 Charles Wright & Arthur Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, p. 148 (1990) (“Conspicuously absent from Rule 8(a)(2) is the requirement found in the codes that the pleader set forth the ‘facts’ constituting a ’cause of action’.).

Instead, “[a]ll that is required is that the defendant be on notice as to the claim being asserted and the grounds on which it rests.”  Sams, 866 F.2d at 1384.  This does not necessarily require a plaintiff to plead every element of its legal theory.  Hemenway v. Peabody Coal Co., 159 F.3d 255, 261 (7th Cir. 1998).  Moreover, there is no burden on the plaintiff to justify altering his original theory.  Vidimos, 99 F.3d at 222.

Under Florida law to state a claim for unjust enrichment the plaintiff […]

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