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Walker v. Mobile Police Department

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

April 18, 2017




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for More Definite Statement (doc. 2). The Motion has been briefed and is now ripe for disposition.

         I. Background.

         Plaintiff, Brandon J. Walker, who is proceeding pro se, commenced this action in Mobile County Circuit Court against defendants, Mobile Police Department and the City of Mobile. On February 3, 2017, Circuit Judge Brooks entered an Order requiring Walker to submit a more definite statement of his vague claims. (Doc. 1-1, at 50.) Walker endeavored to comply by filing what he styled his “First Amended Complaint” on February 16, 2017. (Id. at 58-61.) In that First Amended Complaint, Walker alleged for the first time that defendants had violated his federal constitutional rights.[1] On that basis, defendants filed a Notice of Removal (doc. 1) removing this action to this District Court, and properly predicated federal jurisdiction on the federal question provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Shortly thereafter, defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for More Definite Statement.

         Upon careful review of Walker's four-page pleading, it is extraordinarily difficult to ascertain what he is alleging and what his claims for relief might be. The First Amended Complaint references “three incidents” that Walker says amount to a “violation of the plaintiffs 4th amendment.” (Doc. 1-1, at 59-60.) According to the pleading, the first incident occurred on or about May 12, 2015, when a Mobile Police Department (“MPD”) officer

“violated plaintiffs 4th amendment by instantly, starting repeatedly and knowingly taking false statements, making false statements, creating false reports at my residence, private property. Instantly, starting to seize plaintiff persons and property. Being barbaric, and starting a pattern of aggravated behavior, manipulation, and allowed swindle.”

(Doc. 1-1, at 59.) The second incident, alleged to have taken place on or about June 6, 2015, involved a MPD officer being “called on a personal cell phone by the false reporter, Again knowingly of the false statements and harassment of reporter, set on the phone with reporter and I'm guessing was going to show up and arrest me for something.” (Id.)

         As for the third incident, the Complaint alleges that Walker called the police to his residence on or about August 22, 2015, based on “harassment and assault from some guys across street.” (Id. at 60.) According to the Complaint, the MPD officer who responded to Walker's call “immediately started to harass and assault me, 13A-11-8 harassing communication, ” told Walker “they didn't want [him] here, ” and placed her hand on her gun. (Id.) Walker alleges that this MPD officer “was negligent, rude, and beyond scope of power and out of context. Violating U.S. 42 Section 1983 deprivation of rights and in Violation of plaintiffs 4th Amendment. … Officer then created a fabricated false repot [sic] using false statements and her on [sic] misjudgment of facts warning me of trespassing.” (Id.)

         The Complaint concludes that “[a]ll three incidents leading to the more violation of U.S. 42 sec 1983 deprivation of rights set forth by the constitution and violation plaintiffs of 4thamendment.” (Id.) Walker maintains that he visited MPD headquarters on three occasions to lodge a complaint, but that police representatives at that location “swindled me out of a complaint, ” “talked in circles, ” “refuse to file a complaint, ” and “continued talking in swindle until he began to get irate and told me I had nothing on police department and to get out of the building. He was rude, Negligent and harassing.” (Id. at 60-61.)

         Defendants now move for dismissal of the First Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P., for the stated reason that the pleading fails to comply with minimum pleading requirements prescribed by Rule 8(a)(2) as well as the Twombly / Iqbal line of authorities. Alternatively, defendants request that Walker be ordered to file a more definite statement pursuant to Rule 12(e), on the grounds that his First Amended Complaint is so vague or ambiguous that defendants cannot reasonably prepare a response.

         II. Analysis.

         A. Applicable Legal Standards.

         For purposes of a Rule 12(b)(6) analysis, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations of the First Amended Complaint, and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See, e.g., Keating v. City of Miami, 598 F.3d 753, 762 (11th Cir. 2010) (in reviewing Rule 12(b)(6) motion, court must “accept[] the facts alleged in the complaint as true, ” “draw[] all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, ” and “limit[] our review to the four corners of the complaint”). That said, “if allegations are indeed more conclusory than factual, then the court does not have to assume their truth.” Chaparro v. Carnival Corp., 693 F.3d 1333, 1337 (11th Cir. 2012); see also Almanza v. United Airlines, Inc., 851 F.3d 1060 (11th Cir. 2017) (“On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court does not accept as true unwarranted deductions of fact.”).

         “To survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint … must give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 705 (11th Cir. 2010) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). What this means is that the plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face, ” so as to “nudge[] [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007); see also Moore v. Grady Memorial Hospital Corp., 834 F.3d 1168, 1171 (11th Cir. 2016) (“To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). These minimum pleading standards “require[] more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. It is not sufficient for a ...

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