Shahid et al v. US Bancorp
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (see order for details) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant's motion to strike [# 25 -1] is denied, and the motion for more definite statement [# 25 -2] is granted only to the following extent: plaintiffs shall file an ame nded complaint which complies with this Memorandum and Order and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure within 21 days of the date of this Order. In all other respects, the motion for more definite statement is denied. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant's motion to dismiss [# 21 ] is denied without prejudice as moot. ( Response to Court due by 9/20/2012.) Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 08/30/2012. (CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MELLVE SHAHID, et al.,
US BANCORP, et al.,
Case No. 4:12CV900 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before me on the City of Florissant’s motion to dismiss for
lack of jurisdiction and US Bancorp’s motion to strike or for a more definite
statement. Defendants complain that they cannot properly determine the nature of
the action being brought against them due to pleading deficiencies.1
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that “the court may strike
from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent,
or scandalous matter.” Although the Court enjoys “broad discretion” in
determining whether to strike a party’s pleadings, such an action is “an extreme
measure.” Stanbury Law Firm v. I.R.S., 221 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000)
The City of Florissant argues that this Court lacks jurisdiction over Mellve Shahid’s
claims because the complaint does not indicate the nature of his claims, while US Bancorp
contends that portions of the complaint should be stricken and/or plaintiffs should be required to
file an amended complaint to cure pleading deficiencies.
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Accordingly, motions to strike
are “viewed with disfavor and are infrequently granted.” Id. (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted).
A party may make a motion for more definite statement if a pleading is so
vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(e). But, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) only requires a complaint to contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Because of “liberal notice pleading and the availability of extensive
discovery, motions for a more definite statement are universally disfavored.”
Tinder v. Lewis County Nursing Home Dist., 207 F. Supp. 2d 951, 959 (E.D. Mo.
2001). “A motion under Rule 12(e) is designed to strike at unintelligibilty in a
pleading rather than want of detail.” Patterson v. ABS Consulting, Inc., 2009 WL
248683, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Feb.2, 2009). The notice pleading standard “relies on
liberal discovery rules and summary judgment motions to define disputed facts
and issues and to dispose of unmeritorious claims.” Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A.,
534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). Because a motion for more definite statement is not a
substitute for discovery, one cannot use it to test a case or require the pleader to
allege certain facts or retreat from certain allegations. Tinder, 207 F. Supp. 2d at
960. When, however, a “pleading fails to specify the allegations in a manner that
provides sufficient notice, a defendant can move for a more definite under Rule
12(e) before responding. Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 514.
Here, US Bancorp has not demonstrated that it is entitled to a motion to
strike, nor has it demonstrated that plaintiffs are required to allege in their
complaint the amount of detail demanded by defendant. That defendant does not
like how the plaintiffs have structured their complaint is not a proper basis to
strike it. However, I do find that plaintiffs should file an amended complaint to
clarify their claims against the both defendants. Although plaintiffs explained the
basis for Mellve Shahid’s claims in their opposition to these motions, it is not
apparent from reading the complaint what his claims are and against whom they
are brought.2 Plaintiffs seek relief from two different defendants — US Bancorp
and the City of Florissant. Each defendant is entitled to know what claims are
being asserted against it by which plaintiffs from a reading of the complaint. As
currently alleged, the second amended complaint does not meet this standard and
does not sufficiently apprise the defendants of the claims against them.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant’s motion to strike [#25-1] is
I do not decide, for purposes of these motions, whether alleging that “Mellve Shahid Jr’s
claims are based on his being the spouse of Sharhonda Shahid” (as plaintiffs have done in their
opposition papers) sufficiently states a claim against one or both defendants.
denied, and the motion for more definite statement [#25-2] is granted only to the
following extent: plaintiffs shall file an amended complaint which complies with
this Memorandum and Order and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure within 21
days of the date of this Order. In all other respects, the motion for more definite
statement is denied.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant’s motion to dismiss [#21] is
denied without prejudice as moot.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 30th day of August, 2012.
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