Monday, December 8, 2008
A panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently reinstated a suit arising out of the 1984 Bhopal, India factory explosion. The district court dismissed all of plaintiff's claims except for one after converting the defendants' motion to dismiss under FRCP 12(b)(6) into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. The plaintiffs argued on appeal that the district court gave inadequate notice of conversion prior to granting the motion. The appeals panel agreed and found that the conversion was in error, or at the least premature. Citing the language of FRCP 12(d), the panel explained that "this means that a district court must give notice to the parties before converting a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)." The district court had found notice was unnecessary because the plaintiffs were already on notice to a possible conversion. Citing to a previous Second Circuit case the court emphasized that "care should, of course, be taken by the district court to determine that the party against whom summary judgment is rendered has had a full and fair opportunity to meet the proposition that there is no genuine issue of material fact...”
Read the full opinion here.