United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT (#66).
PAGE KELLEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
August 3, 2016, pro se plaintiff Luis Diaz, a
pretrial detainee housed at the Massachusetts Correctional
Institution at Cedar Junction, filed this action against
several correctional officers, Department of Corrections
staff members, and various other individualsalleging
violations of state and federal statutes and Diaz's
constitutional rights stemming from an ongoing “campaign
of obstruction and intimidation” undertaken in an
effort to retaliate against plaintiff for filing grievances
and this action. (#1 at 1-2.) Over the course of the
litigation, Diaz has filed a number of supplements to his
complaint as well several motions in which additional facts
are proffered and supposedly incorporated into the complaint.
See ##1, 4, 8, 10, 33, 43, 44, 56, 58, 61. From all
that appears, it is plaintiff's intention that these
documents be construed together as his complaint. See,
e.g., #58 at 9 (“all statement[s] of fact in all
supplemental and original complaints and any statement of
fact supplement in any and all filed documents . . . must be
considered as a whole.”).
before the court is a motion by defendants Jeremy Drew, Elena
Clodius, Harrold Wilkes, Mathew Sawash, William Byrnes, and
Michael Kasprzak seeking a more definite statement pursuant
to Rule 12(e), Fed.R.Civ.P. (#66.) As explained below, the
court finds Diaz's pleadings deficient to the extent that
a repleader is necessary.
Standard of Review.
may move for a more definite statement when the pleading
“is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot
reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). The
“rule ‘is designed to remedy unintelligible
pleadings, not merely to correct for lack of
detail.'” Jones v. Revenue Assistance
Program, No. CV 15-14017-NMG, 2016 WL 3919843, at *8 (D.
Mass. July 14, 2016), appeal dismissed (Nov. 16,
2016) (quoting Ivymedia Corp. v. iLIKEBUS, Inc.,
2015 WL 4254387, at *6 (D. Mass. July 13, 2015)). “Rule
12(e) relief is the most suitable remedy where, as here, the
plaintiff is proceeding pro se and the parties are
unable to engage in discovery until they are capable of
identifying the specific claims against the specific
individuals.” Carter v. Newland, 441 F.Supp.2d
208, 214 (D. Mass. 2006) (citing Hilska v. Jones,
217 F.R.D. 16, 25 (D.D.C. 2003)).
the court is mindful that it must construe pro se
complaints liberally, even pro se litigants are
bound by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”
Janosky v. Massachusetts P'ship for Corr.
Healthcare, No. 15-CV-12929-IT, 2017 WL 1164490, at *1
(D. Mass. Mar. 28, 2017) (citing Foley v. Wells Fargo
Bank, N.A., 772 F.3d 63, 75-76 (1st Cir. 2014) and
F.D.I.C. v. Anchor Properties, 13 F.3d 27, 31 (1st
Cir. 1994)). Here, the litany of filings that make up
Diaz's complaint fall far short of the threshold
requirements established by the Federal Rules of Civil
Rule 8 General Rules of Pleading.
Fed. R. Civ. P., mandates that a complaint contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
In other words, the complaint must include
“‘enough detail to provide a defendant with fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.'” Silverstrand Investments. v. AMAG
Pharmaceutical, Inc., 707 F.3d 95, 101 (1st Cir. 2013)
(quoting Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640
F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011) (alteration in original) (citation
and further internal quotation marks omitted)); Barbosa
v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, No. CV 14-13439-ADB,
2016 WL 3976555, at *2 (D. Mass. July 22, 2016). This means
that the statement of the claim must “‘at least
set forth minimal facts as to who did what to whom, when,
where, and why.'” Calvi v. Knox County,
470 F.3d 422, 430 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting Educadores
Puertorriqueños en Acción v.
Hernández, 367 F.3d 61, 68 (1st Cir. 2004)).
Although the requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) are minimal,
“‘minimal requirements are not tantamount to
nonexistent requirements.'” Id. (quoting
Gooley v. Mobil Oil Corp., 851 F.2d 513, 514 (1st
plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his
claims “requires more than labels and
conclusions.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A court is not “‘bound
to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.'” Id. (quoting Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). Further, “only
a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief”
states a claim upon which relief may be granted. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). “Where the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, ” the complaint
does not show that “‘the pleader is entitled to
relief.'” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2) in second quotation).
Rule 8 establishes the threshold requirements of what must be
set forth in a complaint, so too does it provide a bookend as
to the extent of what information a litigant is entitled to
include therein. “Each allegation must be simple,
concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). The
documents that make up Diaz's complaint are verbose,
disjointed, and fail to comport with the requirements of Rule
initial matter, plaintiff continues to file documents in
which he seeks to add additional facts, claims, defendants,
and forms of relief sought. When read together, these
documents fail to articulate any coherent claim beyond a
general displeasure with the way in which he has been, and
continues to be, treated while in custody. Even though Diaz
is proceeding pro se, that does not give him license
to bombard defendants with new allegations throughout these
proceedings. The court is aware that the alleged misconduct
against plaintiff is ongoing, however, he need only allege as
much in the complaint; he need not supplement his pleadings
with each new instance of alleged wrongdoing.
flaw in Diaz's filings is that he fails to detail against
whom specifically he is asserting the various causes of
action that are strewn throughout the papers. In its current
form, the complaint does not permit defendants to identify
the specific wrongdoing alleged against the specific
actor(s). The complaint must connect each ...