Jones v. Hurley Medical Center
OPINION AND ORDER finding as moot 6 Motion for More Definite Statement and Ordering Response to Amended Complaint. Signed by District Judge Paul D. Borman. (DTof)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 17-13083
Paul D. Borman
United States District Judge
HURLEY MEDICAL CENTER,
Stephanie Dawkins Davis
United States Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER:
(1) DIRECTING DEFENDANT TO ANSWER OR OTHERWISE RESPOND
TO PLAINTIFF’S AMENDED COMPLAINT (ECF NO. 9); AND
(2) DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR MORE
DEFINITE STATEMENT (ECF NO. 6)
On September 20, 2017, Plaintiff Sharina Jones filed this action, asserting one
count of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42
U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (“ADA”), and one count of disability discrimination under
the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, Mich. Comp. Laws §
37.1101 et seq. (“PWDCRA”). (ECF No. 1, Compl.)
On November 1, 2017, Defendant Hurley Medical Center filed a Motion for
More Definite Statement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e), which
allows a party to “move for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a
responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party
cannot reasonably prepare a response.” (ECF No. 6, Def.’s Mot.) In that Motion,
Defendant argued that the complaint was vague because it pled two distinct factual
grounds for Plaintiff’s ADA claim in one count: that Defendant maintains policies
that discriminate against individuals with physical disabilities, and that Defendant
has failed to meet its statutory obligations to make its facilities physically accessible
to individuals with physical disabilities. Defendant further argued that the second of
those two grounds is itself pled in insufficient detail, as the complaint failed to set
forth allegations regarding “the address, location upon that address, or nature of the
alleged physical barriers.” (Def.’s Mot. at 3, Pg ID 17.)
One week later, Plaintiff made two filings in response. First, she filed a
Response to Defendant’s Motion (ECF No. 8, Pl.’s Resp.), in which she pointed out
that the complaint identified the location where the alleged acts of discrimination
took place as the “Bariatric Center,” which in itself should have afforded Defendant
sufficient notice of her claim’s factual basis. (Pl.’s Resp. at 5, Pg ID 33.) Second,
Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on the same day.1 (ECF No. 9, Am. Compl.)
The Amended Complaint contains repeated references to the Bariatric Center (Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 10, 12-13, 19, 21-22, 32-33) and to its street address (Am. Compl. ¶ 7).
With regard to any pleading (like Plaintiff’s original complaint) to which a
responsive pleading is required, “[a] party may amend its pleading once as a matter
of course within . . . 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after
service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.” Fed. R. Civ.
P. 15(a)(1)(B). Defendant did not file a responsive pleading, and Plaintiff filed her
Amended Complaint one week after Defendant filed its Rule 12(e) motion. The
Amended Complaint was thus filed as a matter of course under Rule 15(a)(1)(B).
The Amended Complaint also asserts two separate claims under the ADA: one based
on allegations of discriminatory policies (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 20-30), and one based on
allegations of barriers to physical access by disabled persons (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3144). The latter claim alleges several respects in which the Bariatric Center’s parking
lot specifically operates as a barrier to access. (Am. Compl. ¶ 33.) Finally, the
Amended Complaint adds a new claim under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, based on the same factual allegations pled in support of
the other claims. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 45-59.)
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), “[a] pleading that states a claim
for relief must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). As interpreted by the Supreme
Court, this standard does not require “‘detailed factual allegations,’ but it demands
more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A
pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (internal citations omitted) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 559 (2007)). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’
devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
The Court finds that the Amended Complaint satisfies the basic pleading
requirements of Rule 8(a)(2). The Amended Complaint is neither conclusory nor
formulaic, and it asserts factual grounds for the claims that are sufficiently specific
for this stage of the litigation. Further, and without opining on whether the original
complaint itself satisfied Rule 8(a), the Court notes that the specific concerns that
Defendant identified in its Motion for More Definite Statement appear to have been
addressed in the Amended Complaint: the Amended Complaint sets forth separate
counts based on the different factual grounds for Plaintiff’s ADA claim, as well as
the location and the nature of alleged physical barriers that are the factual basis for
one of those claims. To whatever extent the original complaint was “so vague or
ambiguous that [Defendant could not] reasonably prepare a response,” Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(e), the Amended Complaint is not.
Accordingly, Defendant shall answer or otherwise respond to the Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 9) within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this Opinion and
Order. Defendant’s Motion for More Definite Statement (ECF No. 6), which was
directed at the original complaint, is hereby DENIED AS MOOT.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Paul D. Borman
Paul D. Borman
United States District Judge
Dated: November 27, 2017
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that a copy of the foregoing order was served upon
each attorney or party of record herein by electronic means or first class U.S. mail
on November 27, 2017.
Deborah Tofil, Case Manager
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