Dalton v. Social Security Administration
ORDER Directing Plaintiff To File Amended Complaint, by Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland on 11/4/13. (nmmsl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 13-cv-02999-BNB
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION,
ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT
Plaintiff, Josie Dalton, has filed pro se a Complaint. The court must construe the
Complaint liberally because Ms. Dalton is not represented by an attorney. See Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir.
1991). However, the court should not be an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall,
935 F.2d at 1110. For the reasons stated below, Ms. Dalton will be ordered to file an
amended complaint if she wishes to pursue her claims in this action.
The court notes initially that Ms. Dalton names an improper Defendant. It is
apparent that Ms. Dalton seeks judicial review of a final decision denying her
administrative claim for social security disability benefits. As a result, the appropriate
Defendant in this action is the Commissioner of Social Security and not the Social
Security Administration. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.210(d).
The court also finds that the Complaint is deficient because the Complaint does
not comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The twin purposes of a complaint are to give the opposing parties fair notice
of the basis for the claims against them so that they may respond and to allow the court
to conclude that the allegations, if proven, show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See
Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City, Inc. v. American Cemetery Ass’n of
Kansas, 891 F.2d 1473, 1480 (10th Cir. 1989). The requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8
are designed to meet these purposes. See TV Communications Network, Inc. v. ESPN,
Inc., 767 F. Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991), aff’d, 964 F.2d 1022 (10th Cir. 1992).
Specifically, Rule 8(a) provides that a complaint “must contain (1) a short and plain
statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction, . . . (2) a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief
sought.” The philosophy of Rule 8(a) is reinforced by Rule 8(d)(1), which provides that
“[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Taken together, Rules 8(a) and
(d)(1) underscore the emphasis placed on clarity and brevity by the federal pleading
rules. Prolix, vague, or unintelligible pleadings violate the requirements of Rule 8.
Ms. Dalton fails to provide a short and plain statement of her claims showing that
she is entitled to relief. In particular, Ms. Dalton fails to allege the reason her
administrative claim was denied and why she believes that decision was erroneous.
The general rule that pro se pleadings must be construed liberally has limits and “the
court cannot take on the responsibility of serving as the litigant’s attorney in constructing
arguments and searching the record.” Garrett v. Selby Connor Maddux & Janer, 425
F.3d 836, 840 (10th Cir. 2005). Therefore, Ms. Dalton will be ordered to file an amended
complaint if she wishes to pursue her claims. If available, Ms. Dalton should attach to
her amended complaint a copy of the administrative law judge’s decision denying her
If Ms. Dalton fails within the time allowed to file an amended complaint that
complies with this order and the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the instant action will be dismissed without prejudice. However, even if the
action is dismissed without prejudice, the dismissal may bar recovery if the time for filing
an action seeking review of the denial of social security benefits expires. See
Rodriguez v. Colorado, 521 F. App’x 670, 671-72 (10th Cir. 2013). Pursuant to Section
205(g) of the Social Security Act, a civil action must be commenced “within sixty days
after the mailing to him of notice of [any final decision of the Commission of Social
Security] or within such further time as the Commissioner of Social Security may allow.”
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Ms. Dalton file, within thirty (30) days from the date of this
order, an amended complaint that complies with the pleading requirements of Fed. R.
Civ. P. 8 as discussed in this order. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that Ms. Dalton shall obtain the appropriate courtapproved Complaint form, along with the applicable instructions, at
www.cod.uscourts.gov. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that, if Ms. Dalton fails within the time allowed to file an
amended complaint that complies with this order as directed, the action will be
dismissed without further notice.
DATED November 4, 2013, at Denver, Colorado.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Boyd N. Boland
United States Magistrate Judge
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