United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
TRACY ARNOLD, as the Personal Representative of the Estate of DARIN W. ARNOLD, deceased, Plaintiff,
BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY f/k/a Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
LINDSAY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Defendant's Motion for More Definite
Statement and Motion for Lone Pine Order (Doc. 17),
filed December 6, 2018. After considering the motions,
response, reply, pleadings, and applicable law, the court
denies Defendant's Motion for More
Definite Statement, denies the Motion for
Lone Pine Order, and denies
Defendant's alternative request to file a
“no-evidence” summary judgment motion at this
early stage of the case (Doc. 17).
Factual and Procedural Background
W. Arnold (the “Decedent”) died on July 30, 2018,
after working for Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway
Company (“Defendant”) for 22 years. On behalf of
the Decedent's estate, Tracy Arnold
(“Plaintiff”), the Decedent's wife, sued
Defendant for negligence under the Federal Employers
Liability Act (“FELA”), 45 U.S.C. § 51
et seq., and violations of the Federal Locomotive
Inspection Act (“LIA”), 49 U.S.C. § 20701,
alleging that the Decedent's death was caused by his
exposure to toxic substances and known carcinogens while
working on the Defendant's railroad during his
employment. Plaintiff alleges that the Decedent “worked
out of [Defendant's] Cherokee Yard in Tulsa, OK[, ] from
which he made runs to Ardmore, OK; Springfield, MO; Madill,
OK[;] and  Dallas, TX” and was also
“temporarily based in the Dallas Yard.” Plaintiff
seeks damages in the amount of $400, 000. Pl.'s Compl.
December 6, 2018, Defendant moved for a more definite
statement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e).
Defendant also moved for entry of a Lone Pine order.
Among other things, Defendant contends that Plaintiff has
failed to identify the chemicals to which the Decedent was
exposed, the location of his exposure, and the date of his
initial exposure. On December 26th, 2018, Plaintiff filed a
response to both the motion for more definite statement and
the motion for a Lone Pine order, to which Defendant
replied on January 8, 2019, making the motions ripe for
Motion for More Definite Statement
Rule 8(a) and Rule 12(e) Legal Standard
8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a
pleading to contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Rule 8 only requires “notice” pleading.
Accordingly, it is not necessary that the pleader set forth
each and every factual allegation supporting a claim. The
“short and plain statement, ” however, must
contain sufficient allegations of fact “that will give
the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Leatherman
v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics Intell. & Coordination
Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168 (1993) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). A motion for a more definite statement
under Rule 12(e) should be granted to clarify the complaint
only when the complaint is so unintelligible that the court
cannot “make out one or more potentially viable legal
theories, ” and is “so vague or ambiguous that
the opposing party cannot respond, even with a simple denial,
in good faith or without prejudice to itself.”
Sefton v. Jew, 204 F.R.D. 104, 106 (W.D. Tex. 2000).
When a respondent complains of matters that could be answered
via discovery, a motion for more definite statement is not
warranted. Arista Records, LLC v. Greubel, 453
F.Supp.2d 961, 972 (N.D. Tex. 2006).
Law Applicable to Claims Brought Under FELA and for LIA
noted, Plaintiff asserts a claim under FELA for negligence
and alleges that Defendant violated the LIA. “Under
[the] FELA, an injured railroad employee may recover damages
for ‘injury or death resulting in whole or in part from
the negligence' of the railroad.” Huffman v.
Union Pac. R.R., 675 F.3d 412, 416 (5th Cir. 2012)
(quoting 45 U.S.C. § 51). The FELA provides the
exclusive remedy for a railroad employee engaged in
interstate commerce who suffers an injury that is caused by a
railroad employer's negligence. Id. (citation
omitted). It requires a railroad to provide “a
reasonably safe work environment for its employees.”
Huffman , 675 F.3d at 417 (citing Urie v.
Thompson, 337 U.S. 163, 179 n.16 (1949)). Thus, the
question that arises in most FELA cases is “whether the
railroad exercised reasonable care in creating a reasonably
safe working environment.” Rivera v. Union Pac. R.
Co., 378 F.3d 502, 507 (5th Cir. 2004). Negligence under
the FELA “exists if the defendant railroad ‘knew,
or by the exercise of due care should have known' that
its conduct was ‘inadequate to protect [the plaintiff]
and similarly situated employees.'”
Huffman , 675 F.3d at 417 (quoting Urie,
337 U.S. at 178). A claim for negligence under the FELA
requires factual allegations that support a “breach of
[the] standard of care, causation, and damages.”
Huffman, 675 F.3d at 419 (citing Consolidated
Rail Corp. v. Gottshall, 512 U.S. 532, 540 (1994)). When
“an injury has multiple causes, it is sufficient if the
railroad's ‘negligence played a part-no matter how
small-in bringing about the injury.'”
Huffman, 675 F.3d at 419 (quoting CSX Transp.,
Inc. v. McBride, 564 U.S. 685, 698 (2011)).
LIA, formerly known as the Boiler Inspection Act, amended the
FELA “substantively if not in form.”
Urie, 337 U.S. at 189. The LIA is not a basis for
liability; rather, it imposes an absolute and continuing duty
on a railroad carrier to provide safe equipment. Danko v.
Union Pac. R. Co., No. 405-CV-153-BE, 2007 WL 1854059,
at *5 (N.D. Tex. June 28, 2007) (citing Urie, 337
U.S. at 188-89, which explained that a cause of action under
the LIA is brought as an FELA action).
A railroad carrier may use or allow to be used a locomotive
or tender on its railroad line only when the locomotive or