Dioguardi v. Durning
139 F.2d 774 (2d Cir. 1944)
- Dioguardi imported some
"bottles and tonics" from Italy, but never claimed them.
Durning, who was the Collector of Customs at the Port of New York, sold
the property at auction.
- Under 19 USCA § 1491, items
that remain unclaimed for a year are sold at auction.
- Dioguardi sued Durning,
claiming that he improperly handled and sold the property.
- Dioguardi drafted his own
complaint and didn't do a good job.
- Dioguardi was action pro
se, which means he didn't have a
- Durning filed a motion to
dismiss for failure to state a cause of action.
- Dioguardi's complaint didn't
do a very good job of stating the reasons why he was suing Durning.
- The Trial Court dismissed
Dioguardi's complaint. Dioguardi appealed.
- The Appellate Court reversed
and remanded the case for trial.
- The Appellate Court found
that the plaintiff does not have to describe in detail all causes of
action in the complaint for the complaint to be sufficient.
- The Court noted that the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure follow the notice pleading standard.
- Under that standard, a
complaint need only put the Court and the defendant on notice of the causes of action.
- For proper notice, a
complaint only need to present a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.
- The Court suggested that
Dioguardi hire a lawyer to help him.
- In general, complaints in
Federal Courts usually only require:
- A statement of subject
- A short and plain statement
of the claim, and
- A demand for judgment.
- Special matters (e.g. fraud,
mistake or special damages) must be pleaded with more specificity. (See Federal
- Turns out that Dioguardi got
his trial in the end, but still lost. However, the fact that he
ultimately lost doesn't mean that he didn't have the right to hear his
- Btw, this case was heard by a
judge who was on the committee that wrote Federal Rule 9, so he probably knew what he was talking