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Bowden v. Pinnacle Rehabilitation and Health Center

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

April 8, 2015


Submitted: April 7, 2015

Upon Consideration of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss GRANTED

Frederick Bowden, Pro se.

Maria R. Granaudo Gesty, Esquire, Burns White, LLC, Wilmington, Delaware for Defendant Pinnacle Rehabilitation and Health Center.

James E. Drnec, Esquire, and Melony R. Anderson, Esquire, Balick & Balick, LLC, Wilmington, Delaware for Defendants Kent General Hospital and Bayhealth Medical.

Jeffrey M. Austin, Esquire, Elzufon Austin Tarlov & Mondell, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware for Defendant Brookside Clinical Laboratory, Inc.


Robert B. Young J.


This suit presents the Court with the infrequent occurrence where Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim so utterly that the Court must dismiss Plaintiff's case. By his Complaint, Frederick Bowden ("Plaintiff") alerts this Court and his named adversaries (Pinnacle Rehabilitation and Health Center ("Pinnacle"), Kent General Hospital ("Kent Gen era l"), Bayhealt h Medical ("Bayhealth"), and Brookside Clinical Laboratory, Inc. ("Brookside" and, together with the preceding parties, "Defendants")) that negligence resulted in the passing of his wife. No further factual specifications are indicated. Although Delaware maintains a benevolent pleading standard for claimants, Plaintiff's statement fails to meet even this low threshold. Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED.


On February 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint against Defendants. Plaintiff's claim appears to arise out of the death of his wife. By two separate motions Defendants' move to dismiss Plaintiff's case.[1]


The Court's standard of review on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Superior Court Civil Rule 12(b)(6) is well-settled. The Court accepts all well-pled allegations as true.[2] Well-pled means that the complaint puts a party on notice of the claim being brought.[3] If the complaint and facts alleged are sufficient to support a claim on which relief may be granted, the motion is not proper and should be denied.[4] The test for sufficiency is a broad one.[5] If any reasonable conception can be formulated to allow Plaintiff's recovery, the motion to dismiss must be denied.[6] Dismissal is warranted only when "under no reasonable interpretation of the facts alleged could the complaint state a claim for which relief might be granted."[7]


Delaware, differing from Federal jurisprudence, [8] maintains its traditionally low threshold for sufficient pleadings.[9] Only where a plaintiff could not "recover under any reasonably conceivable set of circumstances susceptible of proof, " is a court to dismiss a claim.[10] The pleading need only put "the opposing party on notice of the claim being brought against it."[11] Plaintiff's Complaint, which names three separate Defendants, is that rare pleading where even Delaware's liberal standard is not met. Defendants are put on notice of nothing calling for a response.

The Court, therefore, GRANTS Defendants' Motions to Dismiss.[12]As Defendants point out, Plaintiff's Complaint contains a single, undeveloped allegation: "[n]egligence resulted in the untimely death of the decedent Mestinea Ann Melendez Bowden my wife..."[13] The remainder of Plaintiff's Complaint speaks solely to its timely filing within the applicable statute of limitations. Defendants, therefore, move to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Superior Court Rule 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Despite this Court's sensitivity to the fact that Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the complete absence of any specifications of negligence in Plaintiff's Complaint cannot be overlooked.[14]

As Plaintiff is alleging negligence, Superior Court Rule 9(b) requires that his claim be plead with "particularity."[15] Chiefly, a complaint sounding in negligence must "specify a duty, a breach of duty, who breached the duty, what act or failure to act caused the breach, and the party who acted."[16] At best, Plaintiff has managed to address the parties against which demands are made, and nothing more. Starkly absent is the fundamental element of how the various Defendants are considered to have acted bringing about the death of Plaintiff's wife. Lacking facts to support the remaining prongs, Plaintiff has made only conclusory allegations."[C]laims of negligence...may not be conclusory and must be accompanied by some factual allegations to support them."[17] As Defendants' accurately remark, they cannot even be said to be on notice of the nature of Plaintiff's claims against them. Notice is the key demand of Delaware's pleading standard.[18] Faced with such deficient pleading, the Court must dismiss Plaintiff's action for failure to state a claim sufficiently.


For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motions to dismiss are GRANTED.


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