Muhammad v. Bethel-Muhammad et al
ORDER denying 150 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; denying 151 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; denying 152 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Signed by Chief Judge William H. Steele on 1/2/2013. Copy mailed to Plaintiff, Brenda Bethel-Muhammad & Paul Vaughn Russell. (tgw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
KALIM A.R. MUHAMMAD, etc.,
) CIVIL ACTION 11-0690-WS-B
BRENDA BETHEL-MUHAMMAD, et al.,)
This matter is before the Court on the plaintiff’s three motions for judgment on the
pleadings. (Docs. 150-52).
“After the pleadings are closed – but early enough not to delay trial – a party may
move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). Two of the defendants
made the subject of the plaintiff’s motions have not filed answers. As the Court has
previously advised the plaintiff, (Doc. 124), the pleadings are not “closed” until an
answer is filed, such that a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed before the
defendant has filed an answer is premature and must be denied on that basis. E.g., Doe v.
United States, 419 F.3d 1058, 1061-62 (9th Cir. 2005). Because defendants Bethel and
Armstrong have not filed answers, the plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings as
to these defendants, (Docs. 151, 152), are denied.
The third defendant has filed an answer, (Doc. 114), so as to him the plaintiff’s
motion is not premature. “Judgment on the pleadings is proper when no issues of
material fact exist, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law based
on the substance of the pleadings and any judicially noticed facts.” Cunningham v.
District Attorney’s Office, 592 F.3d 1237, 1255 (11th Cir. 2010) (internal quotes omitted).
“It is axiomatic … that for purposes of the court’s consideration of the Rule 12(c) motion,
all of the well pleaded factual allegations in the adversary’s pleadings are assumed to be
true and all contravening assertions in the movant’s pleadings are taken to be false.” 5C
Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1368 at 230 (3rd
ed. 2004). Thus, “[u]pon such a motion [for judgment on the pleadings,] denials and
allegations of the answer which are well pleaded must be taken as true.” Beal v.
Missouri Pacific Railroad Corp., 312 U.S. 45, 51 (1941); accord United States v.
$41,580.00 in U.S. Currency, 253 Fed. Appx. 880, 882-83 (11th Cir. 2007).
Defendant Russell’s answer denies virtually every allegation of the amended
complaint.1 For purposes of the plaintiff’s motion, then, Russell’s denials must be taken
as true and the plaintiff’s corresponding assertions in the amended complaint taken as
false. On this state of affairs, the plaintiff cannot possibly be entitled to judgment on the
pleadings.2 The plaintiff’s motion, (Doc. 150), is thus denied.
DONE and ORDERED this 2nd day of January, 2013.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The answer consists primarily of outright denials, but even where the answer asserts an
inability to admit or deny, such a statement “has the effect of a denial.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)(5).
The plaintiff’s impression that Russell was legally required to back up his answer with
record evidence proving his position is simply wrong.
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