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Global Fresh, Inc. v. Asica Natural Sac

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 1, 2015

Global Fresh, Inc.,
v.
ASICA Natural SAC, et al.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

PERCY ANDERSON, District Judge.

Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER

Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction filed by defendant Alfredo Jose Morales ("Morales") (Docket No. 12) and a Motion for More Definite Statement filed by Morales and defendant ASICA Natural SAC ("ASICA") (Docket No. 14). Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the Court finds that these matters are appropriate for decision without oral argument. The hearing calendared for April 13, 2015, is vacated, and the matters taken off calendar.

I. Factual Background

Plaintiff Global Fresh, Inc. ("Global") is a California company with its principal place of business in Los Angeles, California. According to the First Amended Complaint ("FAC), which Global filed after the Court dismissed the original Complaint with leave to amend to properly allege the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, [1] Global agreed to purchase three shipping containers of mangoes from ASICA, which is located in Lima, Peru, for $74, 844. Global alleges that ASICA provided to Global bills of lading with Global listed as the consignee of the shipment and that in reliance on those documents, Global wired to ASICA the $74, 844 on January 6, 2015. Global further alleges that Morales spoke to Global's representatives "on numerous separate occasions" and assured Global that the mangoes would be shipped to Global as ordered. Despite the representations by Morales and ASICA that it would sell and ship the mangoes to Global, around the time it received Global's payment, ASICA secretly changed the sales, import, and shipping documentation to list a different company as the consignee of the shipment.

The FAC alleges that once it discovered that ASICA had not shipped the mangoes to Global as promised, Global bought $200, 000 worth of "cover" mangoes on the open market to meet obligations to its customers. The FAC alleges claims for: (1) breach of contract against ASICA; (2) breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing against ASICA; (3) intentional misrepresentation against Morales; (4) negligent misrepresentation against Morales; (5) fraud against Morales; (6) constructive fraud against ASICA and Morales; (7) promissory estoppel against ASICA; (8) unjust enrichment against ASICA; and (9) conversion against ASICA.

In their Motion for More Definite Statement, ASICA and Morales contend that the FAC's allegations do not satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b)'s heightened pleading standard for fraud claims. Morales's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction asserts that Morales has insufficient contacts with the Central District of California to support the Court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over him.

II. Motion for More Definite Statement

Defendants ASICA and Morales assert that the FAC does not satisfy the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) requirements for pleading fraud because the FAC does not allege sufficient facts concerning the allegedly false representations made by Morales and others or how those statements were false.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) states that "[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). However, a motion for a more definite statement must be considered in light of the liberal pleading standards of Rule 8(a)(2). Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (a complaint need only be a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief"). While the Federal Rules allow a court to dismiss a cause of action for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, " they also require all pleadings to be "construed so as to do justice." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), 8(e). The purpose of Rule 8(a)(2) is to "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). "Rule 12(e) motions attack the intelligibility of the complaint, not the lack of detail, and are properly denied where the complaint notifies the defendant of the substance of the claims asserted." United States v. Sequel Contractors, Inc., 402 F.Supp.2d 1142, 1147 (C.D. Cal. 2005) (citing Beery, 157 F.R.D. at 480). "If the detail sought by a motion for more definite statement is obtainable through discovery, the motion should be denied." Beery v. Hitachi Home Elec. (Am.), Inc., 157 F.R.D. 477, 480 (C.D. Cal. 1993).

"In alleging fraud or mistake, a party must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake. Malice, intent, knowledge, and other conditions of a person's mind may be alleged generally." Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). "[W]here a complaint includes allegations of fraud, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure requires more specificity including an account of the time, place, and specific content of the false representations as well as the identities of the parties to the misrepresentations.'" Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 764 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Edwards v. Marin Park, Inc., 356 F.3d 1058, 1066 (9th Cir. 2004)). "To comply with Rule 9(b), allegations of fraud must be specific enough to give defendants notice of the particular misconduct which is alleged to constitute the fraud charged so that they can defend against the charge and not just deny that they have done anything wrong.'" Id . (quoting Bly-Magee v. California, 236 F.3d 1014, 1019 (9th Cir. 2001)).

Contrary to the arguments of ASICA and Morales, the FAC alleges sufficient facts such that a more definite statement is not necessary. The FAC has alleged the late-December of 2014 to early-January of 2015 time frame in which Morales, Oettel, and Castellanos made statements reassuring Global that the mangoes were being shipped to Global, bills of lading that falsely showed that Global was the consignee of the shipment, and that those statements were false because the shipments were in fact sent to a different party. The Court concludes that these allegations are sufficiently specific to satisfy the heightened pleading standard of Rule 9(b). The Court therefore denies the Motion for More Definite Statment.

III. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

In his Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, Morales asserts that he has insufficient contacts with the Central District of California to support the ...


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