Mazzola v. St. Anthony's Medical Center
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (see order for details) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant's motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for a more definite statement [# 5 ], is granted in part. Defendant's motion to dismiss is denied without prejud ice. Defendant's motion for a more definite statement is granted. No later than October 4, 2013, plaintiff must amend her complaint in accordance with this Memorandum and Order and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant must respond no later than 20 days after the complaint is filed or by October 24, 2013, whichever is earlier. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 09/16/2013. (CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
) Case No. 4:13CV786 CDP
ST. ANTHONY’S MEDICAL CENTER,)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Lori Mazzola has sued her former employer, St. Anthony’s Medical
Center (SAMC), for employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 and the Rehabilitation Act. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.; 29 U.S.C.
§§ 794, et seq. SAMC has moved to dismiss, or in the alternative, for a more
definite statement. Because Mazzola’s complaint is too vague for SAMC to
prepare a response, especially with respect to the timeline of the alleged
discrimination, I will order Mazzola to amend it. As such, I will not address
SAMC’s motion to dismiss at this time; I will deny it without prejudice.
The timeline is somewhat obscure. However, it appears that Mazzola
worked as a registered nurse for SAMC from October 2000 until her discharge on
June 18, 2012. She alleges that she filed an EEOC charge on February 26, 2012.
Mazzola alleges that, sometime during her employment, she experienced
discrimination because of her race (white), gender (female), and disabilities, some
of which are neck, shoulder, and back pain, numb hands, post-traumatic-stress
disorder, migraines, and major depression. Mazzola alleges that she was harassed
by other employees and denied reasonable accommodations. She alleges that she
told her supervisors but they failed to act. She also alleges that she was subjected
to different standards than other employees, to whom defendants gave easier work;
that SAMC disciplined Mazzola after she complained that she was not given
accommodations; that SAMC did not accurately record Mazzola’s attendance or
performance; that SAMC failed to cross-train her; and that she was “disrespected,
yelled at and talked down to” by her supervisors.
Defendants’ Motion for More Definite Statement
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e) allows a party to make a motion for more definite
statement if a pleading is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably
prepare a response. A motion under Rule 12(e) should address the unintelligibility
of a pleading rather than want of detail. 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 v.
Lewis Cnty. Nursing Home Dist., 207 F. Supp. 2d 951, 960 (E.D. Mo. 2001); Fed.
R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) (requiring only that a complaint contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”). When,
however, a “pleading fails to specify the allegations in a manner that provides
sufficient notice,” a defendant can move for a more definite statement under Rule
12(e) before responding. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002).
In this case, Mazzola fails to provide even approximate dates for the
discrimination and harassment she allegedly experienced. Though she listed some
alleged acts of discrimination that occurred from March 23, 2012 “to date”
(Compl., ¶ 8), she also writes that she filed her EEOC charge on February 26, 2012
– before any of the enumerated acts of discrimination occurred. Therefore,
Mazzola has not provided SAMC with notice of the timeframe for any of the
allegedly discriminatory acts prompting her EEOC charge and this case. In her
amended complaint, Mazzola must include information regarding when she was
denied reasonable accommodations; subjected to different employment standards
and inaccurate reporting of attendance and performance; disciplined for
complaining that she was denied accommodations; and not cross-trained. She
should also attach a copy of her EEOC charge.
Further, Mazzola names some of her supervisors, alleging that they knew
about her disabilities and knew that she had “been a target of chronic workplace
assaults and/or harassment from other Employees.” (Compl., ¶ 8(a).) But Mazzola
does not identify the other employees that allegedly assaulted and/or harassed her.
In addition, she alleges that she was “subjected to different employment standards”
than black, male employees but does not identify either these employees or explain
how the standards differed. In her amended complaint, Mazzola must more
specifically describe how she was harassed and treated differently and by whom, to
the best of her ability.
Finally, though Mazzola listed some physical and mental impairments, she
states that her disabilities were “included but not limited to” the impairments she
listed. (Compl., ¶ 7.) In order to respond to her Rehabilitation Act claim, SAMC
must know how Mazzola is alleging that she is a “qualified individual with a
disability.” Wojewski v. Rapid City Regional Hosp., Inc., 450 F.3d 338, 344 (8th
Cir. 2006) (elements of Rehabilitation Act claim). In her amended complaint,
Mazzola should state whether she has additional impairments that render her
Based on the foregoing,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant’s motion to dismiss, or in the
alternative, for a more definite statement [#5], is granted in part. Defendant’s
motion to dismiss is denied without prejudice. Defendant’s motion for a more
definite statement is granted. No later than October 4, 2013, plaintiff must amend
her complaint in accordance with this Memorandum and Order and the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant must respond no later than 20 days after the
complaint is filed or by October 24, 2013, whichever is earlier.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 16th day of September, 2013.
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