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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 37699
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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My question concerns a proceedural error in a dismissal for

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My question concerns a proceedural error in a dismissal for an upcoming appeal.

I have a case in state court. It was dismissed by the trial court for failure to state a claim.

I had filed a first amended complaint (FAC) a few months after the original complaint. The FAC shared only one claim with the original complaint and had four new claims. The trial court approved that FAC and then the defendant submitted a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for that FAC. After that, I submitted a motion to amend with an attached second amended complaint (SAC). The SAC had the same claims as the FAC but with additional factual allegations and legal theories.

The trial court then issued an order approving the defendant’s motion to dismiss the FAC but instead of addressing the FAC, the court’s analysis and dismissal of claims was to the original complaint. In the same order, the trial court denied my motion to amend because the claims in the proposed SAC were futile. The court did not provide any analysis of why the claims were futile (presumably they wouldn’t withstand a motion to dismiss on their own).

My question in the context of an appeal is does the determination of the SAC claims as futile essentially constitute a dismissal of the FAC? Even though the FAC, its claims and allegations are not addressed in the court’s order mistakenly dismissing of the original complaint.

From the appellate court's view, what matters is whether any of the complaints stated facts sufficient to prove any legally cognizable cause of action. Example: Suppose you claim breach of contract as a count/cause of action. A breach occurs where the parties agree to some sort of performance and a party fails to perform. So, if you state in your facts that a vendor agreed to sell you a hot dog in exchange for $1.00, you further state that you paid your dollar, but that the defendant handed you a polish sausage, then those facts demonstrate that a contract existed, and that the defendant failed to perform, which satisfies the elements.

Now, let's say that claim to have walked up to the vendor and handed him $1.00, and the vendor hands you a polish sausage. And, let's further say that nowhere on the vendor's stand does it say "Hot Dogs $1.00." You don't have a claim for breach of contract here, because you haven't proved that there was any contract to begin with.

But, from the appellate court's position, there is a cognizable claim: the vendor kept your $1.00 and ignored you, and that raises a claim for quasi-contractual unjust enrichment. The vendor received benefit of $1.00 from you in expectation of the return benefit of a hot dog, and you received nothing at all. Thus, the vendor was unjustly enriched, and you have an equitable claim for reimbursement of your $1.00.

If the trial court failed to recognize the cognizable quasi-contract claim, then the dismissal was incorrect, and the appellate court must reverse (assuming that the appellate court judge has the other half of the brain which may have been missing from the trial court judge -- and we certainly hope so).

That's how the appellate court reviews a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes I will be arguing that the trial court did not accept all my allegations made in the amended complaint as true when it found the claims were futile.


I was just wondering if the trial court has to address the active complaint in the case (the first amended complaint) directly or it can essentially dismiss those claims through the proposed second amended complaint without any specific discussion of the claims. The trial court only addressed and dismissed the original complaint (wrong set of allegations, theories and claims). Wondering if I can make a procedural argument in addition to highlighting the allegations that would support my claims.



I think that I may have not explained effectively.

The appellate court won't care what the trial court analyzed. What matters is whether or not one or more of your complaints sets forth facts necessary to make a cognizable cause of action. If it does, then the trial court cannot dismiss.

The trial court's analysis will be ignored by the appellate court. Your argument on appeal is that the complaint sets forth facts which if proved at trial would prove a cause of action. It may not be the cause of action that you originally stated. That doesn't matter. All that matters is that the facts set forth some cause of action. If you can find it and explain it to the appellate court in your argument, then that will certainly speed things along. But, if you cannot, then the appellate court would have to try to find a cause of action on its own. If it cannot, then it will affirm the trial court's dismissal. Otherwise it will reverse.

Hope this helps.
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 37699
Experience: Retired (mostly)
socrateaser and 7 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Awesome that was what I needed explained.

You're welcome and good luck.

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