United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
Cliarlene Edwards Honeywell United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's objection
to Magistrate Judge Mark Pizzo's Order (Doc. 5). In the
Order, Magistrate Judge Pizzo dismissed her complaint, with
leave to file an amended complaint, because it failed to
satisfy the threshold demands of 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
Thereafter, Plaintiff filed her objection to the Magistrate
Judge's Order (Doc. 8). For the reasons that follow,
Plaintiff's objection will be overruled.
September 19, 2017, pro se plaintiff Elizabeth Rene
Leeper filed a Complaint and Motion for Leave to Proceed
in forma pauperis. Docs. 1 and 2. Plaintiff filed
her action against at least nineteen individual employees,
ranging from federal investigators to the City of Tampa
police chief, as well as the municipality of Tampa, Florida.
Doc. 1. Plaintiff's numerous counts all appear to stem
from one event - an October 20, 2015, search of her
residence. Plaintiff's forty-two page Complaint contains
more than thirty-five causes of action - civil rights
claims for Fifth Amendment, Sixth Amendment, Fourteenth
Amendment, and Fourth Amendment violations, claims for HIPAA
violations, a conspiracy claim, a malicious prosecution
claim, fraud and misrepresentation claims, reckless
endangerment, a perjury claim, and various other tort claims.
Judge Pizzo found that Plaintiff's complaint was
“replete with conclusory, vague, and immaterial facts
not obviously connected to any particular cause of action,
” making it a quintessential shotgun pleading that has
been condemned by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
citing Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's
Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1321 (11th Cir. 2015) (noting
that shotgun pleading means “poorly drafted
complaint”). Magistrate Judge Pizzo noted that it was
unclear how Plaintiff derives dozens of causes of action from
this single event, how one count differs from the next, and
how each Defendant was involved in each count. He then held
that Plaintiff's complaint was a shotgun pleading and it
failed to comport with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) which requires a
pleading contain a “short and plain statement of the
claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Ultimately, Magistrate Judge Pizzo granted Plaintiff leave to
file an amended complaint to correct the errors.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
magistrate judge's ruling on a non-dispositive matter
must be affirmed unless “it has been shown that the
magistrate judge's order is clearly erroneous or contrary
to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a) (“The district judge in
the case must consider timely objections and modify or set
aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is
contrary to law.”). The “clearly erroneous or
contrary to law” standard is extremely deferential.
Pac. Employers Ins. Co. v. Wausau Bus. Ins. Co.,
3:05-cv-850J99MMH, 2007 WL 433362, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 6,
2007). A finding is only clearly erroneous if “the
reviewing court, after assessing the evidence in its
entirety, is left with a definite and firm conviction that a
mistake has been committed.” Krys v. Lufthansa
German Airlines, 119 F.3d 1515, 1523 (11th Cir. 1997).
Eleventh Circuit has repeatedly condemned the use of shotgun
pleadings for “imped[ing] the administration of the
district courts' civil docket.” PVC Windoors,
Inc. v. Babbitbay Beach Constr., N.V., 598 F.3d 802, 806
n. 4 (11th Cir. 2010). Shotgun pleadings require the court to
sift through rambling and often incomprehensible allegations
in an attempt to separate the meritorious claims from the
unmeritorious, resulting in a “massive waste of
judicial and private resources.” Id. (citation
omitted). The Eleventh Circuit thus has indicated that a
shotgun pleading is an unacceptable form of pleading a claim
objections, Plaintiff argues that: (1) her Complaint states a
short and plain statement of this Court's jurisdiction;
(2) her Complaint states a short and plain statement of the
claim under each cause of action; and (3) her Complaint
states a claim for relief, and alternative relief. Doc. 18.
All of Plaintiff's objections are without merit and will
Plaintiff's assertions to the contrary, her Complaint
constitutes a shotgun pleading. The Complaint does not
contain a short and plain statement of this Court's
jurisdiction or statement of the claim under each cause of
action. (Cause of action and/or Counts are stated multiple
times). The Complaint contains allegations which are
disorganized, confusing, and repetitive. Additionally,
Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim for relief
and/or alternative relief in a clear manner against a
specific defendant. As a result, the Complaint contains
ambiguities which make it impossible to determine against
which, if any, of the separate Defendants, Plaintiff is
bringing viable claims. The Complaint is disjointed and fails
to put Defendants on fair notice of the claims against them.
And the Court cannot determine whether any defenses exist
against the claims under these circumstances. As such, it is
clear that this pro se Complaint is not only a
quintessential shotgun pleading, it also does not provide the
Defendants with fair notice of the claims against them.
such, the Magistrate Judge's Order is due to be affirmed.
The Complaint is due to be dismissed with leave to file an
amended complaint which conforms to the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure and the Local Rules of the Middle District of
Florida. Specifically, the Amended Complaint must contain a
short and plain statement, in numbered paragraphs, indicating
why Plaintiff is entitled to relief, each claim must be
limited to a single set of circumstances and each claim
founded on a separate transaction or occurrence must be
stated in a separate count or defense. See Rule 10,
Fed.R.Civ.P. Each count should indicate against which
Defendant or Defendants it is brought.
all of Plaintiff's objections (Doc. 8) will be overruled.
The Order of the ...