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Avci v. Brennan

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 23, 2016

ULAS AVCI, Plaintiff,
v.
MEGAN L. BRENNAN, POSTMASTER GENERAL, Defendant.

          Pro Se Party Ulas Avci, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, Defendant, represented by Rayford A. Farquhar, United States Attorney's Office.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE (Dkt. No. 13)

          DONALD L. CABELL, Magistrate Judge.

         The plaintiff, Ulas Avci, alleges in his pro se complaint that his former employer, the United States Postal Service (the Postal Service) retaliated against him during the course of his employment. The defendant has moved to "strike" and/or "dismiss" the complaint on the ground that it "sets forth a barrage of allegations regarding the plaintiff's claims, which defy the requirements of a short, plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." As discussed below, the Court recommends that the motion be granted, without prejudice.

         I. RELEVANT FACTS

         The following allegations are taken from the complaint (Dkt. No. 1) and accepted as true for purposes of the present motion. The plaintiff is a former employee of the Postal Service. Prior to 2011, he worked at a postal facility in Brockton, Massachusetts. In 2011 the plaintiff, after consideration of plaintiffs' objections thereto (Docket No. 41), Report and Recommendation is accepted and adopted; plaintiff may file an amended complaint in compliance with said Report on or before August 5, 2016. believing he'd been treated unfairly, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), and later brought a lawsuit (but not this lawsuit) against the Postmaster General.[1]

         In 2012, the plaintiff was hired to work at a facility called the "NY ISC JFK unit, " presumably located in New York. The plaintiff's supervisors there were aware that the plaintiff had previously made complaints about perceived improper treatment, and the complaint appears to allege the supervisor(s) subsequently retaliated against the plaintiff in two separate ways. First, the plaintiff's supervisor took his time card and held it for five days before returning it, although there is no allegation the plaintiff was deprived of any compensation as a result. Second, the plaintiff was directed to work on a reportedly malfunctioning machine, which he refused to do. ( Id. at ¶ 6).

         In addition to the factual allegations, the complaint contains a number of paragraphs which, while difficult to decipher, appear to identify and discuss evidence that was offered in a prior EEOC proceeding. ( Id. at ¶¶ 8-13). The complaint also attaches thirteen pages of documents related to the EEOC proceeding. ( Id. at pp. 6-19). In his opposition to the defendant's motion, the plaintiff explains that these documents are included as "evidences [sic]... that may be helpful to resolve this discrimination case." (Dkt. No. 34).

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Framework

         Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim is appropriate if the plaintiff's well-pleaded facts do not "possess enough heft to show that plaintiff is entitled to relief." Ruiz Rivera v. Pfizer Pharm., LLC, 521 F.3d 76, 84 (1st Cir. 2008) (internal quotations and original alterations omitted). "The relevant inquiry focuses on the reasonableness of the inference of liability that the plaintiff is asking the court to draw from the facts alleged in the complaint." Cayo v. Fitzpatrick, No. CIV.A. 13-30113-TSH, 2015 WL 1307319, at *1 (D. Mass. Mar. 24, 2015) (quoting Ocasio-Hernà ndez v. Fortuño-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 13 (1st Cir. 2011)). To determine whether a complaint crosses the plausibility threshold, "the reviewing Court [must] draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Garcia-Catalan v. United States, 734 F.3d 100, 103 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679)). Where "the factual allegations in the complaint are too meager, vague, or conclusory to remove the possibility of relief from the realm of mere conjecture, the complaint is open to dismissal." Morales-Cruz v. Univ. of Puerto Rico, 676 F.3d 220, 224 (1st Cir. 2012) (quoting SEC v. Tambone, 597 F.3d 436, 442 (1st Cir. 2010)).

         Alternatively, in instances where a complaint states a claim but otherwise violates Rule 8(a)(2) because it contains portions that are overly wordy or inappropriate, the court may simply strike those portions from the complaint rather than dismiss the complaint outright. Rule 12(f) provides that a court "may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Thus, where removing wordy or inappropriate portions of a complaint would enhance the ability to understand the nature of the plaintiff's claim(s), striking the deficient portion is preferred. See Belanger BNY Mellon Asset Mgmt., LLC, 307 F.R.D. 55, 58 (D. Mass. 2015) (stating that dismissing a complaint because it is too wordy is disfavored); Hayes v. McGee, No. CIV.A. 10-40095-FDS, 2011 WL 39341, at *1 (D. Mass. Jan. 6, 2011) (Rule 12(f) is "designed to reinforce the requirement in [Rule 8(d)(1)] that pleadings be simple, concise, and direct.").

         Applying these principles here, the Court concludes that the complaint does not state a plausible claim for retaliation, but the plaintiff should be given an opportunity to amend his complaint to satisfy the requirements of Rule 8 to the extent that he has a good faith basis to do so. Separately, the Court finds that the complaint at paragraphs 8 through 13, ...


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