United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KEITH WATKINS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jessica Ross, LaEbboine Russell, Naquita Bledsoe, and Latoya
Pearson allege that Defendant Sejin America,
subjected them to various forms of employment discrimination.
Pending before the court is Defendant's motion to
dismiss. (Doc. # 10.) Upon consideration of the motion and
the complaint, the court will deny the motion to dismiss and
exercise its inherent power to dismiss Plaintiffs'
shotgun complaint with leave for Plaintiffs to file an
STANDARD OF REVIEW
evaluating a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court must take the
facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe them in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Resnick v.
AvMed, Inc., 693 F.3d 1317, 1321-22 (11th Cir.
2012). To survive Rule 12(b)(6) scrutiny, “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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “[F]acial plausibility”
exists “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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint
“must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Each allegation in the complaint “must be simple,
concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 10 provides that the complaint must
“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
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (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.”
(citation, quotation marks, and ellipsis omitted)).
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.”
Weiland, 792 F.3d at 1321.
filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and whatever claims
might be alleged in it. However, it is “virtually
impossible to know” from Plaintiffs' shotgun
complaint “which allegations of fact are intended to
support which claim(s) for relief.” Anderson v.
Dist. Bd of Trustees of Cent. Fla. Cmty. Coll., 77 F.3d
364, 366 (11th Cir. 1996) (describing “the perfect
example of a shotgun pleading”). Thus, in considering
the motion to dismiss, the court cannot “determine
which facts support which claims.” Weiland,
792 F.3d at 1320.
throughout the complaint, Plaintiffs complain of sex-based
discrimination, national origin discrimination, and race
discrimination. (See Doc. # 1 ¶¶ 2, 8, 15,
22, 29.) However, the complaint only includes two distinct
counts titled, “Plaintiff's First Cause of Action
Race Discrimination” (Doc # 1, at 7) and
“Plaintiff's Second Cause of Action Race-Based Cold
and Hostile Working Environment.” (Doc. # 1, at 8.)
Under those headings, Plaintiffs make claims regarding race,
sex, and national origin discrimination. (Doc. # 1
¶¶ 36, 39.) Additionally, Plaintiffs assert that
Defendant acted “under color of state law, ” and
is “vulnerable for individual liability through 42
U.S.C. § 1983.” (Doc. #1 ¶ 35). Section 1983,
however, is not applicable to a discrimination claim against
a private employer, and Plaintiffs only make a single
reference to this claim. See Charles v. Scarberry,
340 Fed.Appx. 597, 599-600 (11th Cir. 2009) (stating that
plaintiff failed to allege that any deprivation occurred
under color of state law because “CVS employees and an
insurance adjuster do not act under color of state
law”); Focus on the Family v. Pinellas Suncoast
Transit Auth., 344 F.3d 1263, 1277 (11th Cir. 2003)
(explaining that, “the under-color-of-state-law element
of § 1983 excludes from its reach merely private
conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful”).
Thus, it seems likely this allegation is scrivener's
error. At another point, Plaintiffs refer to
“Defendants Auburn, ” which is plainly not a
party to this litigation. (Doc. # 1 ¶ 39.) Accordingly,
in addition to the complaint being unclear as to which facts
support which claims, the court cannot determine what claims
Plaintiffs are attempting to allege.
Plaintiffs plead relatively few facts, but those that appear
to support discrimination are conclusory and vague.
Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that supervisors made
racially biased statements, but they do not include who made
the comment or include details about what was said, when it
was said, or in what context it was said. This is the sort of
conclusory allegation that would not survive a motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim. See Seibert v.
Comm'r, Ga. Dep't of Corr., 680 Fed.Appx. 837,
840 (11th Cir. 2017) (stating that an allegation that
defendants transferred plaintiff as retaliation, and did not
include any facts, but only conclusions about defendants'
responsibility, was too conclusory to state a claim).
pleadings impede the administration of the district
courts' civil dockets in countless ways.” PVC
Windoors, Inc. v. Babbitbay Beach Constr., N.V., 598
F.3d 802, 806 n.4 (11th Cir. 2010). “Experience teaches
that, unless cases are pled clearly and precisely, issues are
not joined, discovery is not controlled, the trial
court's docket becomes unmanageable, the litigants
suffer, and society loses confidence in the court's
ability to administer justice.” Anderson, 77
F.3d at 367. Thus, “it is particularly important for
district courts to undertake the difficult, but essential,
task of attempting to narrow and define the issues from the
earliest stages of the litigation. Absent such efforts,
shotgun notice pleadings . . . would impede the orderly,
efficient, and economic disposition of disputes.”
Ebrahimi v. City of Huntsville Bd. of Educ, 114 F.3d
162, 165 (11th Cir. 1997). “If the trial judge does not
quickly demand repleader [of a shotgun complaint], all is
lost - extended and largely aimless discovery will commence,
and the trial court will soon be drowned in an uncharted sea
of depositions, interrogatories, and affidavits.”
Johnson Enters. of Jacksonville, Inc. v. FPL Grp.,
Inc., 162 F.3d 1290, 1333 (11th Cir. 1998). As a case
proceeds on a shotgun complaint, “[g]iven the massive
record and loose pleadings before it, the trial court, whose
time is constrained by the press of other business, is unable
to squeeze the case down to its essentials; the case
therefore proceeds to trial without proper delineation of
issues.” Id. Accordingly, it is particularly
crucial for the court to ensure that justice is administered
efficiently from the outset of each case.
in accordance with the court's “power and duty to
define the issues at the earliest stages of litigation,
” all of Plaintiffs' claims will be dismissed
without prejudice with leave granted to Plaintiffs to file an
amended complaint that complies with the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure and this Order. Johnson Enters., 162
F.3d at 1333; Magluta v. Samples,256 F.3d 1282,
1284 (11th Cir. 2001) (“We have held that ...