Legal Memorandum: Standard for Motions for Judgment on the Pleading

Issue: Whether the standards governing motions for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) require that a motion be denied.

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motions for judgment on the pleading; Denial
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 370 F.2d 795
Cited Statutes: Rule 12 (b)(6)
Date: 06/01/2007

A motion under Rule 12 (b)(6) 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 him to relief.”  Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Matheson v. V.I. Community Bank Corp., 297 F. Supp. 2d 825, 824 (D.V.I. 2003).  Whether or not plaintiff is likely to prevail in the end is not the issue; rather, it is whether any set of facts could be shown that will entitle plaintiff to offer evidence.  Id.  

Legal theories, particular statutes or formal “causes of action” need not be pleaded.  Etienne v. Oyake, 347 F. Supp. 2d 215, 219 (D.V.I. 2004).  All that is required is that the alleged facts, including all reasonable inferences show plaintiff may be entitled to relief under “any possible theory.”  See Unix Sys. Labs. v. Berkeley Software Design, Inc., 832 F. Supp. 790, 803 (D.N.J. 1993).  Indeed, before it may dismiss, “the court is under a duty to examine the complaint to determine if the allegations provide for relief on any possible theory.”  O’Boyle v. Jiffy Lube Int’l, Inc., 866 F.2d 88, 93 (3d Cir. 1989). 

The court must liberally construe the complaint, accepting all factual allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in plaintiff’s favor. Etienne, 347 F. Supp. 2d at 219; Matheson, 297 F. Supp. 2d at 825.  The key inquiry is merely whether defendant has “fair notice” of the nature and basis of […]

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