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Prunty v. Arnold & Itkin LLP

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

December 1, 2017

ROBERT R. PRUNTY, and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,

          OPINION AND ORDER [1]


         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 8(a) (Doc. 19) filed on November 7, 2017. Plaintiff pro se Robert R. Prunty, filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. 21) on November 14, 2017. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.


         Plaintiff, who is African-American, brings this case against eight attorneys regarding their alleged mistreatment of his product liability claims against the pharmaceutical manufacturer of Risperdal for personal injuries suffered by his minor son. Prunty alleges that subject matter jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship and federal question. The basis of his allegations are that Defendants conspired to deprive him of his Constitutional rights to be free from involuntary servitude, the right to control the upbringing of his children, and the right to be free from contract manipulation. (Doc. 13, ¶ 26). Plaintiff believes that because Defendants held his Risperdal claims in “legal captivity” for three years, ultimately deciding not to file a lawsuit on his behalf, the statute of limitations on his claims expired.[2] Plaintiff alleges that Defendants willfully and knowingly collected large numbers of Risperdal plaintiffs in order to destroy their legal cases and deny them access to the courts, violating peonage statutes. (Id. at ¶¶ 36, 42, 51).

         Plaintiff has amended his Complaint once as a matter of course, asserting nine counts. (Doc. 13). Despite the labels applied in the Amended Complaint, the Court construes Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9 as asserting claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2) and (3), as many of the claims are duplicative and essentially make the same allegations throughout. Counts 6, 7, and 8 are common law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, constructive fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty.


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a plaintiff is required to provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing entitlement to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Although the complaint need not make detailed factual allegations, it must provide more than labels, conclusions, and formulaic recitations of the elements of the cause of action. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). What is more, a plaintiff alleging fraud, like here, must go one-step further and “state with particularity the circumstances constitute fraud or mistake.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b). A pleading thus satisfies satisfy Rule 9(b) if it alleges

(1) precisely what statements were made in what documents or oral representations or what omissions were made, and (2) the time and place of each such statement and the person responsible for making it (or, in the case of omission, not making) same, and (3) the content of such statements and the manner in which they misled the plaintiff, and (4) what the defendants “obtained as consequence of the fraud.”

Brooks v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 116 F.3d 1364, 1371 (11th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted).

         At the pleading stage, Rules 8 and 9 are read in conjunction with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). When considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the reviewing court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and view them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). But this preferential standard of review does not permit all pleadings adorned with facts to survive to the next stage of litigation. The Supreme Court has been clear on this point - a district court should dismiss a claim where a party fails to plead facts that make the claim facially plausible. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         A claim is facially plausible when the court can draw a reasonable inference, based on the facts pled, that the opposing party is liable for the alleged misconduct. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. This plausibility standard requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (internal quotation marks omitted)).


         While the Court is mindful that pro se complaints are to be held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by an attorney, Wright v. Newsome, 795 F.2d 964, 967 (11th Cir. 1986), the Court agrees with Defendants that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is a shotgun complaint and must be dismissed. See Doc. 13, ¶¶ 33, 40, 55, 59, 66, 71, 78, 83. A shotgun complaint “contains several counts, each one incorporating by reference the allegations of its predecessors, leading to a situation where most of the counts ... contain irrelevant factual allegations and legal conclusions.” Strategic Income Fund, L.L.C. v. Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Corp., 305 F.3d 1293, 1295 (11th Cir. 2002).

[I]f tolerated, [shotgun pleadings] harm the court by impeding its ability to administer justice. The time a court spends managing litigation framed by shotgun pleadings should be devoted to other cases waiting to be heard. Wasting scarce judicial and parajudicial resources impedes the due administration of ...

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