United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
R. DAVID PROCTOR, District Judge.
This matter is before the court on Counter-Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Counterclaim. (Doc. # 22). The Motion has been fully briefed. (Docs. # 27, 28, and 29). For the reasons discussed below, the court concludes the motion is due to be granted.
On or about February 26, 2004, the Defendants/Counter-Plaintiffs, Charles and Gwendolyn Brooks (the "Brookses") financed the purchase of certain property in Jefferson County, Alabama and executed a mortgage in favor of AmSouth Bank. The mortgage was subsequently transferred and assigned to a predecessor corporation to JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Doc. # 1-1 at 5-7). The Brookses subsequently fell behind on their mortgage payments, and on January 28, 2013, JP Morgan Chase foreclosed on the mortgage. (Doc. # 1-1 at 5-7). At the foreclosure sale, Freddie Mac purchased the Property for $291, 160.16. (Doc. # 1-1 at 5-7).
Despite the foreclosure sale, the Brookses refused to vacate the property. Therefore, Freddie Mac filed a Complaint for Ejectment. (Doc. # 1-1 at 3-4). The Brookses responded with a Counterclaim, which they have amended twice, most recently on March 26, 2014 (the "Second Amended Counterclaim Complaint" or "SAC").
II. Standard of Review
In most instances, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that a complaint (or counterclaim) provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Nevertheless, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). The complaint must include enough facts "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Pleadings that contain nothing more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon "labels or conclusions" or "naked assertion[s]" without supporting factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. To be plausible on its face, the claim must contain enough facts that "allow  the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.
The court must construe pleadings broadly and resolve inferences in a plaintiff's favor. Levine v. World Fin. Network Nat'l Bank, 437 F.3d 1118, 1120 (11th Cir. 2006). However, the court need not accept inferences that are unsupported by the facts asserted in the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006). Ultimately, the well-pleaded complaint must present a reasonable inference from the facts it alleges that show a defendant is liable. Reese v. Ellis, Painter, Ratterree & Adams, LLP, 678 F.3d 1211, 1215 (11th Cir. 2012). To survive Counter-Defendants' Motion, the allegations of Plaintiffs' second amended counterclaim must permit the court based on its "judicial experience and common sense... to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.
The Brookses' Second Amended Counterclaim Complaint contains three claims: (1) Breach of Contract, (2) Fraud and Promissory Fraud, and (3) Misrepresentation, Negligence and Suppression. (Doc. # 16).
A. The Brookses' SAC is a "Shotgun" Pleading
As an initial matter, the court notes that the SAC is the Brookses' third attempt to state their counterclaims. Despite two revisions, the SAC remains a "shotgun" style pleading which has been "repeatedly condemned" by the Eleventh Circuit. See PVC Windoors, Inc. v. Babbitbay Beach Constr., N.V., 598 F.3d 802, 806 n. 4 (11th Cir. 2010); Davis v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consol., 516 F.3d 955, 979 (11th Cir. 2008). The Eleventh Circuit has stated that such pleadings "wreak havoc on the judicial system" and "divert already stretched judicial resources into disputes that are not structurally prepared to use those resources efficiently." Wagner v. First Horizon Pharma. Corp., 464 F.3d 1273, 1279 (11th Cir. 2006)
"Shotgun pleadings are those that incorporate every antecedent allegation by reference into each subsequent claim for relief or affirmative defense." Wagner v. First Horizon Pharm. Corp., 464 F.3d 1273, 1279 (11th Cir. 2006). As a result, it is "virtually impossible to know which allegations of fact are intended to support which claim(s) for relief" and which claims are asserted against which Defendants. Anderson v. Dist. Bd. of Trs. of Cent. Fla. Cmty. Coll., 77 F.3d 364, 366 (11th Cir. 1996) (stating that multiple claims should be presented separately in adherence to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b)).
Each claim in the SAC incorporates by reference all preceding paragraphs. Moreover, the second and third claims each assert more than one cause of action. Because after two revisions the SAC remains a shotgun ...