United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on Defendants David Clarke and
Brian Peoples' joint motion to dismiss the claims brought
against them in Plaintiff AAL USA's second amended
complaint. (Doc. 165). Mr. Clarke and Mr. Peoples contend
that the amended complaint does not specify any wrongful
actions by them, and therefore does not state a
claim against them. (Doc. 166 at 1-2).
court finds that, as to Mr. Clarke and Mr. Peoples, the
second amended complaint is a shotgun pleading. As a result,
the court GRANTS the motion to dismiss and DISMISSES WITHOUT
PREJUDICE the claims against Mr. Clarke and Mr. Peoples. AAL
USA may file an amended complaint on or before March 2, 2018.
stage, the court must accept as true the allegations in the
second amended complaint and construe them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Butler v. Sheriff of Palm
Beach Cty., 685 F.3d 1261, 1265 (11th Cir. 2012).
Accepting as true the allegations in the second amended
complaint, the eight defendants in this case-which include
four people and four companies-have engaged in a protracted
conspiracy to engage in self-dealing, loot AAL USA's
funds, and usurp AAL USA's contracts. (Doc. 96 at 3, 6).
four people named as defendants are Paul Daigle, Keith
Woolford, Mr. Clarke, and Mr. Peoples; all four used to be
executives working for AAL USA. (Doc. 96 at 2, 5). Mr. Clarke
used to be AAL USA's executive director, and Mr. Peoples
used to be its chief operating officer. (Id. at 2).
Mr. Clarke and Mr. Peoples are now “purported
shareholder[s]” of a company called Black Hall
Aerospace; whether they also work for Black Hall Aerospace is
unclear. (Id. at 2).
AAL USA's second amended complaint describes in great
detail the actions taken by Mr. Daigle and Mr. Woolford, it
does not describe much conduct by Mr. Clarke or Mr. Peoples.
The complaint does repeatedly refer to
“Defendants” and “co-conspirators”
without specific reference to Mr. Clarke or Mr. Peoples, but
the court cannot tell whether those references to
“Defendants” and “co-conspirators”
include Mr. Clarke and Mr. Peoples. Much of the time, the
references to “Defendants” appear to relate to
allegations specifically about Mr. Daigle and Mr. Woolford
instead of Mr. Clarke and Mr. Peoples. As a result, the court
will describe only the factual allegations that
specifically pertain to Mr. Clarke and Mr. Peoples.
second amended complaint does not describe any
action that Mr. Peoples took, aside from purportedly being a
shareholder of Black Hall Aerospace. It gives slightly more
information about Mr. Clarke: in 2014, Mr. Clarke used his
company credit card to make unauthorized purchases, including
purchases at a veterinary hospital, at a guitar store, and on
a trip with his daughter to Key West. (Doc. 96 at 7-8; Doc.
96-7 at 8; Doc. 96-8 at 5; Doc. 96-9 at 5; Doc. 96 at 7; Doc.
96-15 at 5). And in 2015, Mr. Woolford and Mr. Daigle used
AAL USA's money to purchase a house, where Mr. Clarke now
lives. (Doc. 96 at 8-9).
second amended complaint lists sixteen causes of
action. AAL USA specifically names Mr. Clarke and
Mr. Peoples in eight of those counts, and lists
“Defendants” or “co-conspirators” in
six of them. The eight counts that name Mr. Clarke and Mr.
Peoples are: (1) conversion; (2) accounting; (3) specific
performance; (4) constructive trust; (5) breach of fiduciary
duties; (6) tortious interference; (7) unjust enrichment; and
(8) faithless servant doctrine. (Doc. 96 at 28, 33-38). The
six counts that apparently name all Defendants are: (1)
fraudulent suppression; (2) violation of the Computer Fraud
and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030; (3) violation of the
Defend Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1832; (4)
violation of Alabama's Trade Secrets Act, Ala. Code
§ 8-27-1 et seq.; (5) conspiracy; (6)
injunctive relief. (Id. at 26-33, 37-38, 39).
Clarke and Mr. Peoples move to dismiss the claims for failure
to state a claim. (Doc. 166). They argue that the second
amended complaint, as a shotgun pleading, violates Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8. (Id. at 3-4, 16-17).
provides that “[a] pleading that states a claim for
relief must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The pleading must “give[ ] the
defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests.” Hunt v. Aimco
Properties, L.P., 814 F.3d 1213, 1221 (11th Cir. 2016).
Eleventh Circuit has repeatedly condemned so-called
“shotgun pleadings.” See Weiland v. Palm
Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1320-23
(11th Cir. 2015); Magluta v. Samples, 256 F.3d 1281,
1284 (11th Cir. 2001). The Court has described several
different types of shotgun pleadings, one of which is
“the relatively rare sin of asserting multiple claims
against multiple defendants without specifying which of the
defendants are responsible for which acts or omissions, or
which of the defendants the claim is brought against.”
Weiland, 792 F.3d at 1323. “[S]hotgun
pleadings wreak havoc on the judicial system. Such pleadings
divert already stretched judicial resources into disputes
that are not structurally prepared to use those resources
efficiently.” Wagner v. First Horizon Pharm.
Corp., 464 F.3d 1273, 1279 (11th Cir. 2006) (quotation
marks and citation omitted). When a plaintiff files a shotgun
pleading, the court must require the plaintiff to replead the
claims “in a complaint that respects the requirements
of Rule 8.” Id. at 1285.
court finds that, with respect to Mr. Clarke and Mr. Peoples,
AAL USA's second amended complaint is a shotgun pleading;
it “is replete with allegations that ‘the
defendants' engaged in certain conduct, making no
distinction among the [numerous] defendants charged, though
geographic and temporal realities make plain that all of the
defendants could not have participated in every act
complained of.” Magluta, 256 F.3d at 1284.
Although the second amended complaint describes in detail an
alleged scheme by at least some of AAL USA's former
officers to take over the company, the complaint does not
give Mr. Clarke, Mr. Peoples, or this court sufficient
information to determine what they allegedly did.
If, as AAL USA argues, Mr. Clarke and Mr. Peoples engaged in
some of the activities that the second amended complaint