United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS TOWN OF BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS,
BROOKLINE BOARD OF SELECTMEN, BETSY DEWITT, KENNETH
GOLDSTEIN, NANCY DALY, JESSE MERMELL, NEIL WISHINSKY, BERNARD
GREENE, BEN FRANCO, NANCY HELLER, SANDRA DEBOW, AND JOSLIN
MURPHY'S MOTION TO STRIKE (#86) AND ALTERNATIVE MOTION
FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT (#88).
Page Kelley United States Magistrate Judge
Gerald Alston brought this action against the Town of
Brookline (the Town); the Brookline Board of Selectmen (the
Board); various individuals who are either currently or at
some point relevant to this action were serving as selectmen
on the Board (the Selectmen); the Human Resources Director for
the Town, Sandra Debow; Town Counsel, Joslin Murphy; the
union of firefighters to which plaintiff belonged, Local 950;
and Stanley Spiegel, a Town Meeting member and member of the
Town's Advisory Committee,  alleging violations of 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1981, 1983, and 1985 stemming from an alleged
ongoing policy and practice of racial discrimination in Town
governance. (#78.) The Town, the Board, the Selectmen, Sandra
Debow, and Joslin Murphy (the Town defendants) have moved to
strike certain portions of the second amended complaint
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f), to strike portions that fail
to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) and 8(d)(1) and with the
court's previous order on defendants' motions to
dismiss (#86) and, alternatively, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(e), for a more definite statement (#88); Alston has
responded in opposition (#96).
Travel of the Case.
The operative pleading in this matter is the third iteration
of the complaint, the second amended complaint. (#78.) The
original complaint was dismissed voluntarily (#21) and the
first amended complaint was dismissed based on the district
court's adoption of this court's recommendation.
(#75.) The recommendation to dismiss the first amended
complaint without prejudice primarily was based on
Alston's failure to comport with the pleading
requirements of Rule 8, Fed. R. Civ. P. (#72.) The court
concluded that the first amended complaint fell “far
short of the Rule 8(a) standard in many respects.” (#72
the second amended complaint is more succinct than the first
and cabins allegations, for the most part, as illicit conduct
resulting in harm to Alston,  the Town defendants contend that
plaintiff has again failed to comply with the pleading
requirements of Rule 8 such that portions of the document
must be struck or require additional explanation or
Motion to Strike.
Town defendants move to strike paragraphs 19 and 20 (with the
exception of the first sentence), 21-23 and 24 (with the
exception of the first and last sentences), 25 (with the
exception of the first sentence), 26, and 40-69. (#86 at 1.)
accordance with Rule 12(f), a party may move to have the
court “strike from a pleading . . . any redundant,
immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). Striking portions of a pleading is
Courts have ‘considerable discretion' to strike
material under Rule 12(f). Alvarado-Morales v. Digital
Equip. Corp., 843 F.2d 613, 618 (1st Cir. 1988).
However, Rule 12(f) ‘motions are narrow in scope,
disfavored in practice, and not calculated readily to invoke
the court's discretion.' Manning v. Bos. Med.
Ctr. Corp., 725 F.3d 34, 59 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting
Boreri v. Fiat S.P.A., 763 F.2d 17, 23 (1st Cir.
1985)). That is because ‘striking a portion of a
pleading is a drastic remedy and it is often sought by the
movant simply as a dilatory or harassing tactic.'
Id. (internal quotations omitted). As the moving
party, defendants bear the burden of showing that the
allegations should be struck under Rule 12(f). Berke v.
Presstek, Inc., 188 F.R.D. 179, 180 (D.N.H. 1998).
Carney v. Town of Weare, No. 15-CV-291-LM, 2016 WL
320128, at *2 (D.N.H. Jan. 26, 2016) (footnote omitted);
Holloman v. Clarke, No. CV 14-12594-NMG, 2017 WL
1098818, at *1 (D. Mass. Mar. 23, 2017) (“courts may
strike pleadings that include inadmissible hearsay or ...