United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
CHARLENE SCHNEIDER, TRUSTEE of the CHARLENE SCHNEIDER TRUST, et al., Plaintiffs, 
STATE AUTO PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant State Auto Property
and Casualty Insurance Company's Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs Petition (ECF No. 8) and Motion for More Definite
Statement and Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Allegation
Regarding Punitive Damages (ECF No. 12).
case was initiated in state court alleging breach of
insurance contract and vexatious refusal to pay an insurance
claim related to property damage incurred during storms.
Defendants removed the case to federal court pursuant to
U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446. According to
Defendants, complete diversity exited between the ordinally
named parties and the amount in controversy exceeded the
jurisdictional threshold of $75, 000.00.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Petition (ECF
No. 8), it argued the original state court petition prior to
removal improperly listed the Charlene Schneider Trust as the
plaintiff. "Under Missouri law, '[t]he trustee is
the legal owner of the trust property, in which the
beneficiaries have equitable ownership.'" Mayer
v. Lindenwood Female Coll., 453 S.W.3d 307, 314
(Mo.Ct.App. 2014) (quoting Thompson v. Koenen, 396
S.W.3d 429, 435 (Mo.Ct.App. 2013)). "In contrast to a
corporation, a trust is not a legal entity and lacks the
capacity to sue or be sued." Id. (citing
Pauli v. Spicer, No. ED 101231, 2014 WL 5139384, *7
(Mo.Ct.App. Oct. 14, 2014) (holding that trustees and
beneficiaries are necessary and indispensable parties in
actions involving trust property)). A First Amended Complaint
was subsequently filed listing Charlene Schneider, Trustee of
the Charlene Schneider Trust, Marjorie A. Lewitt, Sheri Lynn
Schneider-Dicker and Andrew S. Schneider as Plaintiffs.
Consequently, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs
Petition (ECF No. 8) is now moot.
response to the First Amended Complaint, Defendant filed a
Motion for More Definite Statement and Motion to Strike
Plaintiffs' Allegation Regarding Punitive Damages. (ECF
No. 12) First, Defendant asks the Court to order Plaintiffs
to plead, with specificity, the citizenship of all parties
after Plaintiffs failed to do so. Plaintiffs respond by
arguing they, as the non-removing party, do not bear the
burden of establishing diversity jurisdiction.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e), "[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." "Rule 12(e) is not designed to remedy an
alleged lack of detail, rather, the Rule is intended to serve
as a means to remedy unintelligible pleadings."
Resolution Trust Corp. v. Fiala, 870 F.Supp. 962,
977 (E.D. Mo. 1994). However, when a "pleading fails to
specify the allegations in a manner that provides sufficient
notice, a defendant can move for a more definite [statement]
under Rule 12(e) before responding." Whitehead v.
City of St. Louis, No. 4:09CV483 CDP, 2009 WL 4430699,
at * 1 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 24, 2009) (quoting Swierkiewicz v.
Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002)).
Defendant removed the case to federal court, it alleged
complete diversity existed because it was considered a
citizen of Ohio and the originally named plaintiff, the
Charlene Schneider Trust, was considered a citizen of
Missouri. Plaintiffs did not contest this assertion or move
to remand to state court. Rather, Plaintiffs filed a First
Amended Complaint properly stylized for federal court that
did not include allegations establishing the citizenship of
Rule of Civil Procedure 8 provides, in part, that a claim for
relief must include "a short and plain statement of the
grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the
court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new
jurisdictional support." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1).
Because Plaintiffs have not moved for remand,  they have
conceded federal jurisdiction exists. The First Amended
Complaint, however, does not include sufficient information
to establish that diversity jurisdiction remains after the
new plaintiffs were named. Accordingly, Defendant's
motion is granted as to the motion for more definite
statement and Plaintiffs shall file a Second Amended
Complaint. See also Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S.
77, 94 (2010) ("Courts have an independent obligation to
determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists . . .
motion also asks the Court to strike Plaintiffs'
allegations regarding punitive damages. In the First Amended
Complaint, Plaintiffs allege:
The actions and conduct of Defendant State Auto as set forth
herein were outrageous and showed an evil motive or reckless
indifference or conscious disregard for the rights of
Plaintiff Trust, and therefore Plaintiffs are entitled to
punitive damages from Defendant State Auto, to punish
Defendant State Auto and to deter Defendant State Auto and
others from like conduct.
(ECF No. 11, at ¶ 22) Defendant argues that punitive
damages are disallowed by Missouri's vexatious refusal to
pay statute. Rather, it provides that "if it appears
from the evidence that such company has refused to pay such
loss without reasonable cause or excuse, the court or jury
may, in addition to the amount thereof and interest, allow
the plaintiff damages not to exceed twenty percent of the
first fifteen hundred dollars of the loss, and ten percent of
the amount of the loss in excess of fifteen hundred dollars
and a reasonable attorney's fee." Mo. Rev. Stat.
§ 375.420; see Overcast v. Billings Mut. Ins.
Co., 11 S.W.3d 62, 68 (Mo. 2000) (en banc) ("The
claim here is by the insured against the insurance company
for the policy benefit; the insured's remedy is limited
to that provided by the law of contract plus, if section
375.420 applies, the enhancements provided by the
respond by stating their First Amended Compliant sufficiently
alleges facts supporting their claim of vexatious refusal to
pay and state "[t]o the extent Count II of the First
Amended Complaint purports to state a claim for exemplary
damages over and above the Vexatious Refusal statute ..., it
is withdrawn." (ECF No. 13, at 2)
have, thus, conceded any damages would be limited by the
language provided in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 375.420. Because
the Court grants Defendant's motion with respect to the
motion for more definite statement and orders Plaintiff to
file a Second Amended Complaint, the Court does not need to
strike language in the First Amended Complaint. Acknowledging
this limitation on potential damages in a memorandum,
however, is insufficient. The Court does not allow amendments
to pleadings by supplementation or interlineation.
Popoalii v. Corr. Med. Servs., 512 F.3d 488, 497
(8th Cir. 2008) (holding "that granting leave to amend a
complaint where the plaintiff has not submitted a proposed
amendment is inappropriate"). Consequently, the Second
Amended Complaint shall also reflect the proper nature of
Plaintiffs' claim for damages.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant State
Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Company's Motion to