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Bey v. American Honda Financial Services Corp.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

May 25, 2017

ALI TAJ BEY, d/b/a CRAIG ALLEN MYRICK, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN HONDA FINANCIAL SERVICES CORP., Defendant.

          ORDER

          VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon sua sponte review of pro se Plaintiff Ali Taj Bey's Second Amended Complaint (Doc. # 18), filed on May 19, 2017. For the reasons that follow, the Court dismisses the Second Amended Complaint and grants Bey leave to file a third amended complaint by June 26, 2017.

         I. Background

         Bey initiated this action on March 30, 2017, by filing his Complaint against Defendant American Honda Financial Services Corporation and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. ## 1, 2). Bey then filed an Amended Complaint on April 25, 2017, invoking this Court's federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. # 5). On April 27, 2017, the Court denied Bey's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed the Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 8). In that Order, the Court explained the issues with Bey's jurisdictional allegations. The Court also advised Bey that “because his claims rest on transactions entered under the name Craig Myrick, Bey should explicitly identify in his second amended complaint whether Myrick is his legal name.” (Id. at 11).

         Now Bey has filed a Second Amended Complaint, invoking this Court's diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. # 18). The Second Amended Complaint states that “CRAIG ALLEN MYRICK, assumed name, through its authorized representative Ali Taj Bey” is the plaintiff in this action. (Id. at 1). Additionally, “[t]he Plaintiff is an unincorporated business tradename organized under the laws of New Jersey State” and “Plaintiff is an agency created under the laws of the land in which it is domiciled, New Jersey, and is a New Jersey National, (New Jersian), of the age of majority.” (Id. at 2) (emphasis original). Bey insists he is “proceeding in sui juris, jus soli, not pro se.” (Id.). The Second Amended Complaint also alleges American Honda is “incorporated in the state of California.” (Id.). Although Bey alleges neither party is a citizen of Florida, he argues the Tampa Division of the Middle District of Florida is the proper venue because “[American Honda] regularly transacts business here in Florida State. The contract was executed in Hillsborough County, Florida State, the property (2016 Honda HR-V) is located in Hillsborough County.” (Id.).

         The Second Amended Complaint contains the same six common law causes of action as the Amended Complaint: Count 1 - breach of contract; Count 2 - willful and negligent refusal to rescind; Count 3 - unjust enrichment; Count 4 -breach of fiduciary duty; Count 5 - conversion; and Count 6 - fraud in the inducement. (Doc. # 18). Bey alleges he purchased a 2016 Honda HR-V in December of 2015, and that American Honda financed his purchase. Bey asserts he paid the loan in full - overpaid it, in fact - but American Honda refuses to acknowledge his payment. As a result, Bey has continued to make payments under protest and suffered damages. He demands “all proceeds from the sale of the note, plus all money paid on account for a total judgment of $120, 721.71 $91, 250.50 (notes sold) for a total judgment of $211, 972.21.” (Id. at 9).

         II. Legal Standard

         The Court construes pro se pleadings liberally and holds them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir. 2003). But, “a pro se litigant is still required to conform to procedural rules, and a district judge is not required to rewrite a deficient pleading.” McFarlin v. Douglas Cty., 587 F. App'x 593, 595 (11th Cir. 2014). A district judge may sua sponte dismiss a complaint for failure to comply with the federal rules. Id. (citations omitted). Likewise, “[t]he district judge also has the inherent authority sua sponte to require the plaintiff to file a more definite statement.” Id. (citing Fikes v. City of Daphne, 79 F.3d 1079, 1083 n.6 (11th Cir. 1996)).

         Pursuant to Rule 8(a), Fed. R. Civ. P., a pleading that states a claim must contain, among other things, “a short plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Additionally, Rule 10(b) provides that “[a] party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(b). Taken together, these rules “require the pleader to present his claims discretely and succinctly . . . .” Fikes, 79 F.3d at 1082 (citation omitted).

         Complaints that fail to plead discretely and succinctly are often shotgun complaints. The Eleventh Circuit has described four varieties of shotgun complaints: (1) “a complaint containing multiple counts where each count adopts the allegations of all preceding counts”; (2) a complaint that is “replete with conclusory, vague, and immaterial facts not obviously connected to any particular cause of action”; (3) a complaint that does “not separat[e] into a different count each cause of action or claim for relief”; and (4) a complaint that “assert[s] multiple claims against multiple defendants without specifying which of the defendants are responsible for which acts or omissions, or which of the defendants the claim is brought against.” Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1322-23 (11th Cir. 2015). “The unifying characteristic of all types of shotgun pleadings is that they fail to . . . give the defendants adequate notice of the claims against them and the grounds upon which each claim rests.” Id. at 1323.

         In such cases, it is “virtually impossible to know which allegations of fact are intended to support which claim(s) for relief.” Anderson v. Dist. Bd. of Trs. of Cent. Fla. Cmty. Coll., 77 F.3d 364, 366 (11th Cir. 1996). A defendant faced with such a complaint is not expected to frame a responsive pleading. Id. “The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, pertinent precedent, sound principles of litigation management, and fairness to the opposing party almost uniformly commend requiring a litigant to submit a complaint that is not a ‘shotgun pleading' and that otherwise complies with the salutary rules of pleading.” Stevens v. Barringer, No. 2:11-cv-697-UA-SPC, 2013 WL 24272, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 2, 2013).

         Additionally, a federal court may raise jurisdictional issues on its own initiative at any stage of litigation, and the Court may dismiss a complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction based on the complaint alone. Butler v. Morgan, 562 F. App'x 832, 834 (11th Cir. 2014).

         II. Analysis

         Although it is an improvement upon the Amended Complaint, the Second Amended Complaint should be dismissed for a number of reasons. The Second Amended Complaint violates Rule 10(b) because it does not have numbered paragraphs throughout. Rather, Bey stops numbering paragraphs before the “Substantive Allegations” section. If he chooses to file a third amended complaint, Bey should number every ...


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