Buchanan v. Buchanan et al
Order striking the 28 Amended Complaint as an unauthorized pleading that is noncompliant with Rule 15(a). Unless Plaintiffs re-file the October 17 version of their Complaint by 10/24/2014, that pleading will be stricken pursuant to Rule 11(a). Signed by Chief Judge William H. Steele on 10/22/2014. (tgw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
TIMOTHY BUCHANAN, et al.,
HEATHER SKINNER, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION 14-0105-WS-C
This matter comes before the Court on plaintiffs’ latest “Amended Petition to Determine
Validity of Purported Trust and Appointment of Successor Trustee” (doc. 28), filed on October
On October 10, 2014, this Court entered an Order (doc. 25) granting plaintiff’s Motion
for Leave to File Amended Pleading (doc. 20) pursuant to Rule 15(a)(2), Fed.R.Civ.P. Among
the salient modifications that plaintiff, Timothy Buchanan, sought to make to his Complaint via
the proposed amendment were the addition of two new defendants, Morgan Stanley Inc. and Dan
A. Waller II. The October 10 Order concluded by directing plaintiff “on or before October 17,
2014, to file as a freestanding pleading his Amended Complaint in substantially the same form as
the proposed amended pleading appended to his Motion as an exhibit.” (Doc. 25, at 5.)
Plaintiffs (now consisting of Timothy Buchanan and Mathew Buchanan) complied by filing their
“Amended Petition” on October 17, 2014 (see doc. 27); however, plaintiffs’ counsel failed to
attach his electronic signature to that Amended Petition, thereby violating Rule 11(a).
Inexplicably, and without advance permission from the Court, plaintiffs filed another
iteration of their “Amended Petition” (doc. 28) on October 21, 2014, this one making substantive
changes to the version of the pleading they had requested and obtained leave of court to file via
the October 10 Order. Most notably, this version of the Amended Petition purports to omit as
party defendants Morgan Stanley and Dan A. Waller II, the very defendants whom Timothy
Buchanan had requested and received leave to add via the October 10 Order. The result is
unnecessary confusion as to the status of Morgan Stanley and Waller, all because plaintiffs filed
a substantively new version of their Complaint without explanation, much less the prior leave of
Court required by Rule 15(a)(2).
This is not how it works in federal court. Plaintiffs are not permitted to file new versions
of their pleadings willy-nilly, thereby forcing the Court and opposing parties to guess which
version of their Complaint they intend to pursue, which persons or entities they intend to name as
defendants, and so on. The October 10 Order did not confer upon plaintiffs unfettered license to
file whatever pleading they wanted whenever they wanted to file it. If plaintiffs wished to
submit a pleading that diverged from the specific form of document appended to their Motion as
an exhibit (see doc. 20), they were required to obtain prior leave of court. Again, the October 10
Order was clear that plaintiffs were authorized to file the “Amended Complaint in substantially
the same form as the proposed amended pleading appended to his Motion as an exhibit,” with
such Amended Complaint to be filed by October 17, 2014. The October 10 Order did not
authorize plaintiffs to file a completely different iteration of their Complaint on October 21.
For all of these reasons, the version of the “Amended Petition” filed on October 21, 2014
and found at document 28 of the court file is stricken as an unauthorized pleading that is
noncompliant with Rule 15(a). If plaintiffs wish to proceed via some iteration of their pleading
other than that authorized by the October 10 Order, then it is incumbent on them to file an
appropriate motion pursuant to Rule 15(a).1 In the meantime, plaintiffs’ October 17 filing
remains non-compliant with Rule 11(a), Fed.R.Civ.P., because it is unsigned by plaintiffs’
counsel. Unless plaintiffs re-file the October 17 version of their Complaint on or before October
24, 2014, identical in all respects except for the addition of counsel’s signature, that pleading will
be stricken pursuant to Rule 11(a).
DONE and ORDERED this 22nd day of October, 2014.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
This Order marks the second time in three weeks the Court has stricken an
improper pleading filed by plaintiff’s counsel in derogation of basic principles of Rule 15. (See
doc. 24.) The Court expects plaintiff’s counsel to read and familiarize himself with Rule 15, and
to comply fully henceforth.
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