I was recently able to convince a judge to dismiss a plaintiff's claims against my client because the plaintiff had not pled sufficient facts supporting its claim that my client interfered with its former employees by inducing them to quit and steal confidential information. I was pleased with the result but secretly wondered whether the ruling would stand if the plaintiff moved to amend its complaint after the judge's ruling or whether the decision would be reversed on appeal. At least in the Middle Section of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, it appears that I have nothing to worry about.
In Morris Properties, Inc., Realtors v. Norris Johnson, et al., No. M2007-00797-COA-R3-CV (M.S. Tenn. Ct. App. 2008), the Court affirmed the dismissal of Morris Properties, Inc.'s claim for tortious interference because it did not plead any facts establishing two of the elements -- intent and malice. In doing so, the Court held that the complaint must "do more than simply parrot the legal elements of the causes of action...." It must plead facts "that, if true, would support each required element [of the claim]." The opinion implies that Morris Properties could have filed an amended complaint prior to the hearing on Defendants' motion to dismiss. Since it did not, it had no basis to complain later.
I believe that this decision is fair and supports judicial economy. Defendants need to know what they allegedly did wrong in order to prepare a defense while the evidence is fresh. And plaintiffs need to be proactive about attempting to remedy any defects in their complaints so that those issues can be resolved as soon as possible.