United States District Court, D. South Dakota
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Lawrence L. Piersol, United States District Judge.
before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss Count
III of Plaintiffs complaint alleging defamation/slander, or
in the alterative, motion for more definite statement. Doc.
6. For the following reasons, Plaintiffs motion for more
definite statement is granted.
August 21, 2018, Plaintiff, Barb Anne Nyreen, served
Defendant, POET, L.L.C., with a Summons and Complaint in the
case of Barb Anne Nyreen v. POET, L.L.C., Civ. No.
18-2568, pending in the Second Judicial Circuit, Minnehaha
County Circuit Court, South Dakota. Doc. 1, 1-1. In her
complaint, Plaintiff alleges claims for age discrimination,
negligent infliction of emotional distress, and
defamation/slander. Doc. 1-1. On September 9, 2018, Defendant
filed a notice of removal to the United States District Court
for the District of South Dakota, Southern Division. Doc. 1.
Court has federal question jurisdiction over Count I of
Plaintiff s complaint alleging age discrimination in
violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of
1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq.
("ADEA"). The Court has supplemental jurisdiction
over the state law claims alleged in Counts II and III of
Plaintiff s complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
October 26, 2018, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Count
III of the complaint alleging defamation/slander pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
in the alternative, a motion for more definite statement
pursuant to Rule 12(e). Doc. 6.
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To state a claim for
relief, a complaint must plead more than "legal
conclusions" and "[t]hreadbare recitals, of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A plaintiff must
demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, that "allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at
675. "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the
court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct,
the complaint has alleged-but has not
'show[n]'-'that the pleader is entitled to
relief" Id. at 679 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). "Determining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense." Id. (citation
Rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "[a]
party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to
which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague
or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a
response." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). The motion must be made
before filing a responsive pleading and must point out the
defects complained of and the details desired. Id.
While such motion is permissible under the Rules,
"[m]otions for a more definite statement are generally
disfavored in light of liberal discovery available under the
federal rules and are granted only when a party is unable to
determine the issues requiring a response." Broin
& Associates, Inc. v. Genecor Int'l, Inc., Civ.
No. 04-4202, 232 F.R.D. 335, 340 (D.S.D. Jul. 26, 2005)
(citing Shaffer v. Eden, 209 F.R.D. 460, 464 (D.
present case, Plaintiff alleges that on August 2, 2017,
during a meeting at a Perkins restaurant with the Director of
Human Resources of POET, L.L.C., the Director told Plaintiff
that she had "outgrown her position." Doc. 1-1,
¶ 20. In Count III of the complaint alleging
defamation/slander, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
"defamed and slandered [Plaintiff] by speaking/writing
and circulating malicious, untrue and damaging comments about
her job performance." Doc. 1-1, ¶ 40.
is either libel or slander, and Plaintiffs complaint
indicates that she is alleging slander. SDCL § 22-11-2.
In South Dakota, slander is statutorily defined as "a
false and unprivileged publication." SDCL §
20-11-4. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that
"unless [a] complaint set[s] forth the alleged
defamatory statement and identif[ies] to whom they were
published, [the defendant] is unable 'to form responsive
pleadings.'" Freeman v. Bechtel Contr. Co.,87 F.3d 1029, 1031 (8th Cir. 1996) (quoting Asay v.
Hallmark Cards, Inc.,594 F.2d 692, 699 (8th Cir.
1979)); Hernandez v. Avera Queen of Peace Hosp., 886
N.W.2d 338, 346 (S.D. 2016) (dismissing defamation claims
because plaintiffs complaint did not allege facts, which,
taken as true, raised more than a speculative right to
relief); cf. Mann v. Haley, Civ. No. 05-0985, 2006
WL 118377, at *3 (E.D. Ark. Jan. 13, 2006) (concluding that a
complaint that provides the alleged defamatory statements
made by the defendants as well as the specific injuries the
plaintiff suffered as a result sufficiently stated a ...