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Sheffield v. City of Boston

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 28, 2016

Carla Sheffield, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Boston et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Carla Sheffield (“plaintiff”) brought this action after an officer-involved shooting of her son Burrell Ramsey-White (“decedent”), against defendants City of Boston, Matthew Pieroway, Joel Resil (collectively, “defendants”) and Michael Moes 1-10 and Mary Moes 1-10, unknown defendants in the Boston Police Department (“BPD”). Plaintiff is the decedent's mother and the personal representative of his estate.

         Defendants filed a motion to strike paragraphs 28 through 60 in plaintiff's amended complaint. For the following reasons, defendants' motion to strike will be allowed, in part, and denied, in part.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On August 21, 2012, Burrell Ramsey-White was killed in an officer-involved shooting. Officers Pieroway and Resil pursued Ramsey-White after he fled from them during a traffic stop. The pursuit concluded when Ramsey-White attempted to enter a locked building but could not get inside. At some point after Ramsey-White attempted to enter the building, Officer Pieroway discharged his firearm which resulted in Ramsey-White's death.

         Plaintiff originally brought this action in Massachusetts state court and in December, 2015, defendants removed the case to federal court. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint in April, 2016, after defendants filed motions to dismiss. Now pending before this Court is defendants' joint motion to strike paragraphs 28 through 60 of plaintiff's amended complaint.

         In the subject paragraphs, plaintiff describes 1) various court opinions and statutes, 2) studies conducted by the BPD, the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations and 3) newspaper articles. Plaintiff maintains that those paragraphs support her claims against defendants.

         II. Defendants' Motion to Strike

         Under Rule 12(f) Defendants move to strike paragraphs 28 through 60 in plaintiff's amended complaint on the grounds that the paragraphs contain factual allegations and evidence that are inadmissible, immaterial and extremely prejudicial to defendants.

         In her opposition to defendants' motion to strike, plaintiff attempts to convert the motion into a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Although defendants mention the potential legal insufficiency of plaintiff's complaint, the crux of their objection is to the immateriality of the allegations in paragraphs 28 through 60. Accordingly, the Court will construe defendants' pleading as a motion to strike under Rule 12(f). See Guzman v. Concavage Marine Constr. Inc., Docket No. 14-cv-8587, 2016 WL 1273285, at *3-4 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2016) (construing defendant's motion as a motion to strike although defendant maintained that the subject portion of plaintiff's complaint was legally insufficient).

         A. Legal Standard for a Motion to Strike

         The Court has broad discretion to strike comments which are not “substantive elements of the cause of action.” Alvarado- Morales v. Digital Equip. Corp., 843 F.2d 613, 618 (1st Cir. 1988). Such motions are, however, “narrow in scope, disfavored in practice, and not calculated readily to invoke the court's discretion.” Boreri v. Fiat, S.p.A., 763 F.2d 17, 23 (1st Cir. 1985). Rule 12(f) motions are not typically granted without a showing of prejudice to the moving party. See 5C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1382 at 421-22 (3d ed. 2016).

         B. Application

         1. The Assertion of Defendants that Paragraphs 28 through 60 Are ...


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