Williams et al v. Encore Receivable Management, Inc.
ORDER striking 1 Preliminary Statement. Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint on or before May 13, 2016. See Order for details. Signed by Judge Marcia Morales Howard on 4/28/2016. (APH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
KIMBERLEE WILLIAMS, BRENDA
TORRES, and KENNETH RENFROW
Case No. 3:16-cv-433-J-34JRK
ENCORE RECEIVABLE MANAGEMENT,
THIS CAUSE is before the Court sua sponte. Plaintiffs initiated the instant action
on April 12, 2016, by filing a nine-count complaint. See Preliminary Statement (Doc. 1;
Complaint). Upon review, the Court finds that the Complaint constitutes an impermissible
“shotgun pleading.” A shotgun complaint “contains several counts, each one incorporating
by reference the allegations of its predecessors, leading to a situation where most of the
counts . . . contain irrelevant factual allegations and legal conclusions.” Strategic Income
Fund, L.L.C. v. Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Corp., 305 F.3d 1293, 1295 (11th Cir. 2002).
Consequently, in ruling on the sufficiency of a claim, the Court is faced with the onerous
task of sifting out irrelevancies in order to decide for itself which facts are relevant to a
particular cause of action asserted. See id. Here, Counts Two, Three, Five, Six, Eight,
and Nine reallege and incorporate by reference many preceding paragraphs contained
within other Counts. See Complaint at 14, 15, 17, 18, 20. Moreover, each Count realleges
and incorporates by reference many paragraphs that are irrelevant to the asserted claim.
See generally Complaint. By way of example only, the Court notes that Count One,
although entitled “Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,” incorporates
paragraphs that on their face are pertinent only to Plaintiffs’ claims under wholly separate
statutes. See id. at ¶ 62, realleging id. at ¶¶ 30, 33, 35, 39, 54–60.
In the Eleventh Circuit, shotgun pleadings of this sort are “altogether unacceptable.”
Cramer v. State of Fla., 117 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 1997); see also Cook v. Randolph
Cnty., 573 F.3d 1143, 1151 (11th Cir. 2009) (“We have had much to say about shotgun
pleadings, none of which is favorable.”) (collecting cases).
As the Court in Cramer
recognized, “[s]hotgun pleadings, whether filed by plaintiff or defendant, exact an
intolerable toll on the trial court’s docket, lead to unnecessary and unchanneled discovery,
and impose unwarranted expense on the litigants, the court and the court’s parajudicial
personnel and resources.” Cramer, 117 F.3d at 1263. When faced with the burden of
deciphering a shotgun pleading, it is the trial court’s obligation to strike the pleading on its
own initiative, and force the plaintiff to replead to the extent possible under Rule 11, Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. See id. (admonishing district court for not striking shotgun
complaint on its own initiative); see also United States ex rel. Atkins v. McInteer, 470 F.3d
1350, 1354 n.6 (11th Cir. 2006) (“When faced with a shotgun pleading, the trial court,
whether or not requested to do so by a party’s adversary, ought to require the party to file
a repleader.”) (citing Byrne v. Nezhat, 261 F.3d 1075, 1133 (11th Cir. 2001), abrogated on
other grounds as recognized by Douglas Asphalt Co. v. QORE, Inc., 657 F.3d 1146, 1151
(11th Cir. 2011)).
In light of the foregoing, the Court will give Plaintiffs an opportunity to file an
amended complaint correcting the shotgun nature of the Complaint.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED:
1. The Preliminary Statement (Doc. 1) is STRICKEN.
2. Plaintiffs shall file an amended complaint curing the shotgun nature of the
Preliminary Statement (Doc. 1) on or before MAY 13, 2016. Failure to do so
may result in a dismissal of this action.
3. Defendant shall respond to the amended complaint in accordance with the
requirements of Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
DONE AND ORDERED in Jacksonville, Florida, this 28th day of April, 2016.
Counsel of Record
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