Stone v. New AR Corporation
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING 11 Renewed Motion for More Definite Statement. Plaintiff is HEREBY ORDERED to replead all his allegations and counts against URS in one complete complaint and adhere to all the additional pleading requirements set forth in the Court's previously referenced 9 Memorandum Opinion and Order on or before April 30, 2015. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 4/15/2015. (JLC)
2015 Apr-15 PM 04:39
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
URS ENERGY &
) Case No.: 1:15-CV-0105-VEH
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Introduction and Procedural History
Plaintiff Edward Stone (“Mr. Stone”) initiated this action against Defendant
URS Energy & Construction, Inc. (“URS”),1 in the Circuit Court of Calhoun County,
Alabama, on November 12, 2014. (Doc. 1-1 at 4).2 Mr. Stone filed a second complaint
in state court on December 11, 2014. (Id. at 17-21). URS removed the lawsuit to
federal court on January 21, 2015, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1 at 1;
id. at 3 ¶ 6) and, on January 28, 2015, filed a Motion for More Definite Statement.
Mr. Stone actually sued “New AR Corporation,” but pursuant to the court’s order of
substitution (Doc. 8) entered on February 24, 2015, the correctly named defendant is URS Energy
& Construction, Inc.
All page references to Doc. 1-1 correspond with the court’s CM/ECF numbering system.
On February 20, 2015, Mr. Stone filed an Amendment to Complaint so as To
More Properly Identify Defendant (Doc. 7) (the “First Amendment”). Within this
document, Mr. Stone identified URS as the proper party defendant and “re-allege[d]
each and every material averment of plaintiff’s original complaint as if set out herein
against defendant URS Energy & Construction, Inc.” (Doc. 7 at 1 ¶ 2).
On February 24, 2015, the court ordered Mr. Stone to file a more definite
statement of his claims. (Doc. 9). In response to this order, Mr. Stone filed an
Amendment to Complaint (Doc. 10) (the “Second Amendment”) on March 2, 2015.
Pending before the court is URS’s Renewed Motion for More Definite
Statement (Doc. 11) (the “Renewed Motion”) filed on March 19, 2015. After
obtaining an extension of time, Mr. Stone, on April 14, 2015, filed both a response
(Doc. 16) to the Renewed Motion and an Amendment To Complaint (Doc. 17) (the
“Third Amendment”). Against this backdrop, the Renewed Motion is now ready for
disposition and, for the reasons explained below, is GRANTED.
Rule 12(e) Standard
Rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
(e) Motion for a More Definite Statement. A party may move for a
more definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is
allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot
reasonably prepare a response. The motion must be made before filing
a responsive pleading and must point out the defects complained of and
the details desired. If the court orders a more definite statement and the
order is not obeyed within 14 days after notice of the order or within the
time the court sets, the court may strike the pleading or issue any other
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e).
As the former Fifth Circuit has explained the standard on motions for a more
The motion for more definite statement, on the other hand, involves,
within the applicable standards of that rule, the exercise of that sound
and considered discretion committed unavoidably and properly to the
Trial Judge as he presides over the continuous process of adjudication
from commencement of the litigation through pleadings, pretrial
discovery, trial, submission and decision.
Under 12(e) the Court must determine whether the complaint is
such that ‘a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive
pleading.’But the fact that a careful Judge, in the exercise of that wise
discretion controlled by the prescribed principles of that rule, might so
conclude does not permit him to dismiss the complaint for failure to
state a claim. ‘It may well be that petitioner’s complaint as now drawn
is too vague, but that is no ground for dismissing his action. * * *.’ Glus
v. Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal, 1959, 359 U.S. 231, 79 S. Ct.
760, 763, 3 L. Ed. 2d 770, 774.
Mitchell v. E-Z Way Towers, Inc., 269 F.2d 126, 130 (5th Cir. 1959).3
Mr. Stone’s First, Second, and Third Amendments do not provide a more
In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the
Eleventh Circuit adopted as binding precedent all decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down
prior to October 1, 1981.
definite statement of his claims. Instead, his piecemeal approach to pleading results
in a more confusing one. In particular, while Mr. Stone’s series of amendments
purport to all be linked together, the scope of the allegations and the number of
counts that are pled against URS remain ambiguous.
As URS explains in its Renewed Motion specifically concerning the unclear
nature of Mr. Stone’s Second Amendment:
As the amendment is written, defendant is unable to determine
what portions of the original complaint plaintiff is amending and what
portions of the original complaint plaintiff is reasserting. Moreover,
because the new claims are numbered as Counts III and IV, it appears
that plaintiff is retaining Counts I and II from the original complaint and
simply adding two additional claims. Thus, the same issues previously
asserted in defendant’s Motion for More Definite Statement still
apply—plaintiff has failed to identify the specific laws that he alleges
URS violated and the specific causes of action asserted in Counts I and
Accordingly, URS respectfully requests that the Court order
plaintiff to clearly set forth his complaint allegations in one pleading,
including in each count the specific laws that he alleges URS violated
and the specific causes of action asserted, or alternatively, URS requests
that the Court enter an order of dismissal.
(Doc. 11 at 4 ¶¶ 6-7).
Mr. Stone’s Third Amendment is similarly ill-structured as it alleges Counts
V and VI against URS (Doc. 17 at 1-7 ¶¶ 3-36; id. at 7-9 ¶¶ 37-47) without
mentioning, much less clarifying, whether he intends for Counts I through IV to be
retained or replaced by this Third Amendment. Under such circumstances of
incoherency, URS cannot reasonably be expected to file a responsive pleading to Mr.
Stone’s First, Second, and Third Amendments.
Accordingly, the Renewed Motion is GRANTED, and Mr. Stone is HEREBY
ORDERED to replead all his allegations and counts against URS in one complete
complaint. When restating his claims, Mr. Stone is also HEREBY ORDERED to
adhere to all the additional pleading requirements set forth in the court’s previously
referenced memorandum opinion and order (Doc. 9) entered on February 24, 2015.
The deadline for Mr. Stone to provide a more detailed and comprehensive
complaint is on or before April 30, 2015. Finally, another failure on the part of Mr.
Stone to replead in a more definite manner will result in a dismissal of his
lawsuit with or without prejudice.4
Thus, URS’s Renewed Motion is GRANTED and, Mr. Stone is HEREBY
ORDERED to replead his complaint on or before April 30, 2015.
Notably, this is Mr. Stone’s second dismissal warning. (See Doc. 9 at 5 (“Finally, the
failure to replead as required herein may result in a dismissal of Mr. Stone’s case without
DONE and ORDERED this 15th day of April, 2015.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
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