United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Stephanie Davis (“Davis”) initiated this action
against Infinity Insurance Co., Infinity Property and
Casualty Corp., (collectively “Infinity
Defendants”) and Robin Adams (collectively
“Defendants”) on July 1, 2015. (Doc. 1). On
August 29, 2016, the undersigned entered a memorandum opinion
and order denying Davis's motion to amend her complaint,
(doc. 23), but permitting her to file another motion to amend
her complaint that complied with the extensive analysis
outlined in the memorandum opinion and order. (Doc. 40). On
September 28, 2016, Davis moved for leave to file a second
amended complaint, (doc. 41), and the undersigned granted
Davis's motion, (doc. 42). (See doc. 43 (second
amended complaint)). Defendants move for dismissal of
Davis's second amended complaint or, in the alternative,
for a more definite statement. (Doc. 44). The motion is fully
briefed and ripe for review. (Docs. 44, 48, 49). For the
reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss is
DENIED; however, the alternative motion for
a more definite statement is GRANTED, as
Standard of Review
12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., permits dismissal when a complaint
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint
states a facially plausible claim for relief “when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citation
omitted). The complaint must establish “more than a
sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id.; accord Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (“Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.”). Ultimately, this inquiry is a
“context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
end, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a
pleading must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief.”
“[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555). Mere “labels and conclusions” or
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” are insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678. (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Id. (citing
Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 557).
case arises out of the Infinity Defendants'
implementation of a Spanish/English-bilingualism requirement
applicable to employees and potential hires (referred to as
the “bilingual requirement”). (Doc. 43 at ¶
12). Davis, an African-American, who was employed as a Policy
Services Specialist and does not speak Spanish fluently, was
terminated under the policy. (Id. at ¶¶
12, 16, 30). Twelve of the seventeen people terminated from
the same job were African-American. (Id. at ¶
18). However, Infinity Defendants retained five white
employees despite them being less senior or less productive
or having received formal discipline (which Davis had not).
(Id. at ¶ 15).
Defendants also told Davis that, in order to receive benefits
under the 2014 Profit Sharing Bonus Plan, she would have to
sign a severance agreement giving up her right to file or
pursue EEOC charges or Title VII and § 1981 claims,
despite already being entitled to the bonus. (Id. at
¶ 33). She was given until December 1, 2014, to sign the
agreement. (Id. at ¶ 35). However, on November
12, 2014, she contacted Infinity Defendants to inform them
denial of the plan benefits violated ERISA, but the Infinity
Defendants' Director of Benefits and Compensation
responded that the company was standing by its decision to
only pay benefits under the plan to those who signed the
severance agreement. (Id. at ¶ 37). Davis did
not sign the severance agreement and filed an EEOC charge in
October 2014, which was mailed to the Director of Benefits
and Compensation on October 31, 2014. (Id. at ¶
35). She was then denied payment of her benefits under the
plan. (Id. at ¶ 36).
second amended complaint, Davis asserts the following claims:
(1) Title VII disparate impact termination claim against
Infinity Defendants; (2) Title VII disparate treatment
termination claim against Infinity Defendants; (3) Title VII
and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 disparate treatment termination
(race) claim against Infinity Defendants; (4) Title VII and
42 U.S.C. § 1981 retaliation in benefits against all
Defendants; (5) Title VII disparate impact in benefits
against all Defendants; (6) ERISA: breach of contract against
all Defendants; (7) ERISA: interference with rights against
all Defendants. (Doc. 43).
The Second Amended Complaint Does Not Comply with Rule 10(b)
and Retains Characteristics of a Shotgun Pleading
second amended complaint, Davis's operative pleading, is
her fourth attempt to present her claims. Defendants
contend, like her previous attempts, this complaint is a
“shotgun” pleading, neither discrete nor
succinct, fails to properly limit paragraphs, and
“masks and muddles claims such that Defendants cannot
even frame a responsive pleading.” (Doc. 44 at 2). In
rejecting Davis's most recent proposed pleading, the
undersigned cautioned Davis against “an extended morass
of extensively repeated legal conclusions interspersed with
page-long paragraphs of factual allegations, culminating in a
confusingly organized series of counts, ” and reminded
Davis that her complaint must comply with Rules 8 and 10 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 40 at 5, 43).
While the second amended complaint, (doc. 43), is an
improvement, it falls shorts of these requirements.
allegations addressing jurisdiction, parties, and
administrative exhaustion, the second amended complaint
contains a statement of facts, which includes thirty-two
paragraphs of allegations (¶¶ 11 - 42). (Doc. 43).
The remainder of the second amended complaint is organized
into seven counts containing a single legal
theory and identifies the defendants to which
each applies; finally closing with a prayer for relief.
(Id.). Each of the counts incorporates several
paragraphs of allegations of the statement of facts. Although
Davis's second amended complaint is less confusing and
shorter than previous her submission, Davis's extremely
liberal interpretation of Rule 10(b), insistence on
redundancy and incorporating the same set of allegations into
different claims, as well as her inclusion of legal
arguments/conclusions muddies her allegations and claims
beyond what is permissible.
Eleventh Circuit has explained:
The purpose of [the pleading rules] is self-evident, to
require the pleader to present his claims discretely and
succinctly, so that, his adversary can discern what he is
claiming and frame a responsive pleading, the court can
determine which facts support which claims and whether the
plaintiff has stated any claims upon which relief can be
granted, and, at trial, the court can determine that evidence
which is relevant and that which is not.
“Shotgun” pleadings, calculated to confuse the
“enemy, ” and the court, so that theories for
relief not provided by law and which can prejudice an
opponent's case, especially before the jury, can be
masked, are flatly forbidden by the [spirit], if not the
[letter], of these rules.
Weiland v. Palm Beach Cnty. Sheriff's Office,
792 F.3d 1313, 1320 (11th Cir. 2015) (internal citations
omitted). Failure of the court to require the parties to
submit proper pleadings unnecessarily expands and confuses
discovery. See Paylor v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 748
F.3d 1117, 1125 (11th Cir. 2014).
Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b), on the form of pleadings,
Paragraphs; Separate Statements. A party must state its
claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each
limited as far as practicable to a single set of
circumstances. A later pleading may refer by
number to a paragraph in an earlier pleading. If doing so
would promote clarity, each claim founded on a separate
transaction or occurrence-and each defense other than a
denial-must be stated in a separate count or defense.
added). Davis's second amended complaint contains
paragraphs that are not practicably limited to a single set
of circumstances. Instead, the paragraphs contain a litany of
unrelated facts. ...