Legal Memorandum: Standard Applied to a Motion to Dismiss

Issue: What is the standard applied to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss; Standard
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 877 A.2d 267
Cited Statutes: Rule 12(b)(6); Rule 8(a)(2)
Date: 05/01/2007

“A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not address the merits of a claim, rather, it tests whether a claim has been adequately stated in the complaint.”  Hans Lollik Corp. v. Gov’t, 17 V.I. 220, 230 (Terr. Ct. 1981).  In assessing the adequacy of the claims, a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must be read in conjunction with Rule 8(a)(2) of the Fed. R. Civ. P., which requires only a “short and plain statement showing that the claimant is entitled to relief.”  Hobson v. Gov’t, 20 V.I. 413, 416 (Terr. Ct. 1984) (citations omitted).

A court must deny a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) unless “it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [its] claim which would entitle [it] to relief.”  Manbodh v. Hess Oil V.I. Corp. (In re Kelvin Manbodh Asbestos Litig. Series), 47 V.I. 375, 380 (Sup. Ct. 2006) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)).  In applying this standard, a court must view all reasonable factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all inferences from such allegations in Plaintiff’s favor.  Gov’t of V.I. v. Lansdale, 172 F. Supp. 2d 636, 649 (D.V.I. App. Div. 2001).  Accord Callender v. Nichtern, No. 1005/93 (Terr. Ct. June 30, 1995).  “[A] complaint may not be dismissed, unless it is clearly without merit.”  (citation omitted).

On review of the grant of a motion to dismiss, the appellate court reviews the case de novo, Bagwell, applying the same standard […]

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