United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KEITH WATKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is a fourteen-count Amended Complaint filed by
Plaintiffs Greg and Teresa Almond against fourteen
Defendants. Unfortunately, the Amended Complaint is an
impermissible shotgun pleading. Repleading is therefore
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
court has subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331 and 1367. The parties do not contest
personal jurisdiction or venue.
January 2018, members of the Randolph County Narcotics Unit
executed a search warrant on Greg and Teresa Almond's
home. One or more agents kicked in the front door and tossed
a “‘shock' explosive device” into the
home. (Doc. # 20, at 7.) That device blew up at Greg's
feet, injuring him. Agents then arrested Greg and Teresa and
searched their home. They allegedly found a small amount of
marijuana (worth no more than fifty bucks) and a Lunesta
sleeping pill “outside of the bottle in which it had
been prescribed.” (Doc. # 20, at 8.) Agents seized cash
and other items from the home. (Doc. # 20, at
this raid, neither Greg nor Teresa had ever been arrested.
And none of the seized marijuana belonged to them. It
belonged to their son, who confessed his guilt to the
authorities. Even so, Greg and Teresa were indicted for
misdemeanor drug offenses in early 2019. (Doc. # 20, at
8-10.) After their indictments, Greg and Teresa filed this
suit against Randolph County, the Randolph County Commission,
Sheriff David Cofield, and members of the Randolph County
Narcotics Unit. In early April 2019, Greg and Teresa filed an
Amended Complaint (Doc. # 20) “as a matter of
course.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A).
soon moved to stay this case pending the outcome of
Greg's and Teresa's criminal cases. (Docs. # 21, 37.)
But in late April 2019, the state dismissed those criminal
cases. (Docs. # 40-1, 40-2.) After that, Defendants moved to
dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a
claim. (Docs. # 47, 49, 50.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, 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). So-called “shotgun pleadings” violate
Rule 8 “by failing to one degree or another to give the
defendants adequate notice of the claims against them and the
grounds upon which each claim rests.” Vibe Micro,
Inc. v. Shabanets, 878 F.3d 1291, 1295 (11th Cir. 2018)
(cleaned up). “Courts in the Eleventh Circuit have
little tolerance for shotgun pleadings.” Id.
When faced with a shotgun pleading, a defendant should move
for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e). Weiland
v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313,
1321 n.10 (11th Cir. 2015); see Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(e) (“A party may move for a more definite statement
of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but
which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot
reasonably prepare a response.”). A court may also
order repleading on its own motion. See Wagner v. First
Horizon Pharm. Corp., 464 F.3d 1273, 1280 (11th Cir.
2006) (“Given the district court's proper
conclusions that the complaint was a shotgun pleading and
that plaintiffs failed to connect their causes of action to
the facts alleged, the proper remedy was to order repleading
and Teresa's Amended Complaint is a shotgun pleading in
three ways. First, each count adopts and realleges all
preceding counts. Second, the allegations often are
conclusory, vague, and potentially immaterial. And third, the
Amended Complaint raises fourteen claims against fourteen
Defendants, but it rarely specifies who is liable for what.
As a result, repleading is required.
most common type of shotgun pleading contains “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.” Weiland, 792 F.3d at
1321. The Amended Complaint does just that: The first
paragraph of each count recites that “Plaintiffs
incorporate by reference all prior paragraphs of this
complaint as if set out here in full.” (Doc. # 20, at
12-19.) The result is “a situation where most of the
counts (i.e., all but the first) contain irrelevant
factual allegations and legal conclusions.”
Strategic Income Fund, L.L.C. v. Spear, Leeds &
Kellogg Corp., 305 F.3d 1293, 1295 (11th Cir. 2002).
Trying to sift out the relevant allegations and conclusions
would waste judicial resources. See Jackson v. Bank of
Am., N.A., 898 F.3d 1348, 1357 & n.10 (11th Cir.
2018) (outlining the harms caused by shotgun pleadings).
Amended Complaint is also a shotgun pleading because it is
“replete with conclusory, vague, and immaterial facts
not obviously connected to any particular cause of
action.” Weiland, 792 F.3d at 1322. It
frequently alleges legal conclusions and leaves it up to the
court to connect those statements to Greg and Teresa's
claims. See, e.g., Celestine v. Capital
One, 741 Fed.Appx. 712, 715 (11th Cir. 2018) (per
curiam) (finding similar deficiencies made a complaint a
shotgun pleading); McCall v. Bank of Am., N.A., No.
16-cv-184, 2016 WL 5402748, at *2 (M.D. Ala. Sept. 26, 2016)
(same). The Amended Complaint also includes what seem to be
irrelevancies. For example, the Amended Complaint goes into
detail about what was in Greg and Teresa's two safes, but
it does not allege that Defendants seized those items. (Doc.
# 20, at 8-10.) And though Greg and Teresa “allege that
after making complaints to the ...