Clevenger v. City of North Webster Police Department et al
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 22 MOTION for More Definite Statement filed by Knafel, Shepard, Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department.. Signed by Magistrate Judge Susan L Collins on 1/4/16. (kjp)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
FORT WAYNE DIVISION
CITY OF NORTH WEBSTER
POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al.,
Case No. 1:15-cv-00337-PPS-SLC
OPINION AND ORDER
Before the Court is a Motion for More Definite Statement (DE 22) filed by Defendant
Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department and its deputies Knafel and Shepard (collectively, “the
County”), asserting that the County cannot reasonably prepare a meaningful response to Plaintiff
Clifford Clevenger’s complaint and asking that the Court order him to make a more definite
statement of his claims. The motion is now fully briefed. (DE 23; DE 24).
A party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading that is “so vague or
ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). “In
general, motions for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e) are appropriate when a ‘pleading
fails to specify the allegations in a manner that provides sufficient notice.’” Malekpour v.
LaHood, No. 12 C 6999, 2012 WL 5996375, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 30, 2012) (quoting
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 513 (2002)). “Motions under Rule 12(e) are
generally disfavored.” Metz v. Joe Rizza Imps., Inc., 700 F. Supp. 2d 983, 992 (N.D. Ill. 2010)
Here, the County asserts that Clevenger’s complaint sets forth at least 10 different federal
claims against all Defendants in a single paragraph and six different state law claims against all
Defendants in a single paragraph. The County asks that the Court order Clevenger to plead each
ground for recovery “in a separate, distinct, and clearly understandable count.” (DE 22 ¶ 10).
The County also complains that certain of Clevenger’s claims “are mutually exclusive, and
therefore obviously alternative.” (DE 22 ¶ 16). As such, the County asserts that Clevenger’s
complaint as drafted is so vague and ambiguous that it cannot prepare a meaningful response to
all of the claimed causes of action. (DE 22 ¶ 19).
The County’s motion is unpersuasive. “Rule 8 requires very basic ‘notice pleading,’
which is offset by wide and liberal discovery rights.” Moore v. Fid. Fin. Servs., Inc., 869 F.
Supp. 557, 560 (N.D. Ill. 1994) (citation omitted); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d) (stating that “[n]o
technical form is required” and that a party may plead in the alternative). The Court finds that
Clevenger’s complaint is not so vague or ambiguous that it fails to provide the County notice of
his various federal and state claims , as well as the grounds upon which they rest. See, e.g.,
Metz, 700 F. Supp. 2d at 992 (denying defendants’ motion for a more definite statement). As
such, the County has a basis for responding to Clevenger’s claims. Indeed, the other Defendants
have already filed their answers (DE 17; DE 25), and thus, apparently were able to prepare a
meaningful response to Clevenger’s claims. Therefore, the County’s Motion for More Definite
Statement (DE 22) is DENIED.
Entered this 4th day of January 2016.
/s/ Susan Collins
United States Magistrate Judge
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