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Haulcomb v. Cochran

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

April 5, 2019

SAM COCHRAN, et al., Defendants.



         This action is before the Court on Plaintiff Nicholas Andre Haulcomb's fourth amended complaint, the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Naphcare, Inc., and the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Sam Cochran, et al., (docs. 86, 87, 88). Upon consideration, the motions to dismiss are GRANTED and this action is dismissed without prejudice for failure to comply with the orders of this Court.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed his pro se complaint on January 24, 2018 (doc. 1). He moved to amend to correct certain names and various errors in the original complaint (doc. 4). The motion was granted and his complaint was deemed first amended (doc. 12). On September 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed a pro se motion for leave to amend the complaint (doc. 46). The motion was stricken because Plaintiff was represented by counsel (doc. 48). Plaintiff then filed a second amended complaint (doc. 52) which was stricken because he had not filed a motion for leave to amend (doc. 54).

         On October 29, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend, motion to supplement the record, and second motion to supplement (docs 57, 62, 70). Defendants opposed the motions (64, 66, 72). The motion for leave to amend was granted in part and denied in part and Plaintiff was ordered to file a third amended complaint “which conforms with this Court's Order” (doc. 73). In addition to denying Plaintiff leave to amend to add certain claims, counts, and Defendants, the Court also stated as follows:

Defendants argue that the proposed amended complaint is an impermissible shotgun pleading and leave to amend should be denied on that basis. They assert that Plaintiff did not allege what specific conduct supports each claim and did not allege how each defendant is responsible for the alleged constitutional violations or medical negligence. Defendants point out that Plaintiff makes it impossible to determine which allegations are directed to which claim because he incorporates by reference all 200 plus preceding paragraphs, into each count, as well as incorporating each count into the next. Defendants also point out that many paragraphs contain irrelevant allegations and legal arguments that are inappropriate in a complaint.

         The Middle District of Alabama recently explained the types of shotgun pleadings, as follows:

A complaint “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). Each allegation in the complaint “must be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). The complaint must also “state [the plaintiff's] claims ... in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(b).
The purpose of [Rule 8(a)(2) and Rule 10(b)] 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.
Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1320 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting T.D.S. Inc. v. Shelby Mut. Ins. Co., 760 F.2d 1520, 1544 n.14 (11th Cir. 1985) (Tjoflat, J., dissenting)); see also [Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007))] (holding that the purpose of Rule 8(a)(2) is to “give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests” [. . . ]).
“Complaints that violate either Rule 8(a)(2) or Rule 10(b), or both, are often disparagingly referred to as ‘shotgun pleadings,' ” and have been uniformly rejected by the Eleventh Circuit. Weiland, 792 F.3d at 1320. There are four types of shotgun pleadings: (1) pleadings that “contain[ ] multiple counts where each count adopts the allegations of all preceding counts, causing each successive count to carry all that came before and the last count to be a combination of the entire complaint”; (2) pleadings that are “guilty of the venial sin of being replete with conclusory, vague, and immaterial facts not obviously connected to any particular cause of action”; (3) pleadings that “commit[ ] the sin of not separating into a different count each cause of action or claim for relief”; and (4) pleadings that commit “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.” Id. at 1321.
Zaunich v. Hankook Tire America Corporation, 2018 WL 6709466, at *2 (M.D. Ala. Dec. 20, 2018) (slip copy).
Despite the fact that the amended complaint is a disfavored shotgun pleading, the Court finds that denying the motion for leave to amend on this basis is not appropriate at this time. The Court has denied in part Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint and ordered Plaintiff to file an amended complaint which will conform to this order. Having brought the inappropriateness of shotgun pleading to Plaintiff's counsel's attention, the Court ...

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