United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. PAULA C. LORONA, and REID POTTER Plaintiffs-Relators,
INFILAW CORPORATION, a Delaware Corporation, et al., Defendants.
MORALES HOWARD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE is before the Court sua sponte.
Plaintiff Paula C. Lorona initiated the instant action on
August 5, 2015, by filing under seal a four-count Complaint
of Qui Tam Plaintiff Paula C. Lorona (Doc. 1; Complaint)
pursuant to the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729
et seq. Upon review, the Court struck the Complaint
as an impermissible “shotgun pleading” and gave
Plaintiff until August 31, 2015, to file an amended
complaint. See Order (Doc. 5), entered August 6,
2015. On August 31, 2015, Plaintiff Lorona filed the First
Amended Complaint of Qui Tam Plaintiff Paula C. Lorona (Doc.
8). Thereafter, on March 10, 2016, Plaintiffs Lorona and Reid
Potter filed a Second Amended Complaint of Qui Tam Plaintiffs
Paula C. Lorona and Reid Potter (Doc. 14; Second Amended
Complaint). Upon review of the Second Amended Complaint, the
Court finds that Plaintiffs once again employ a shotgun
manner of pleading. As previously explained, a shotgun
complaint contains "multiple counts where each count
adopts the allegations of all preceding counts, causing each
successive count to carry all that came before and the last
count to be a combination of the entire complaint."
See Weiland v. Palm Beach Cnty. Sheriff's
Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1321 & n.11 (11th Cir. 2015)
(collecting cases). As a result, "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). Consequently, in ruling on the sufficiency
of a claim, the Court is faced with the onerous task of
sifting out irrelevancies in order to decide for itself which
facts are relevant to a particular cause of action asserted.
each subsequent count of the five counts in the Second
Amended Complaint begins with the phrase: “By virtue of
the allegations presented above . . . .” See
Second Amended Complaint ¶¶ 218, 227, 236, 241.
Given the lack of any specification, Plaintiffs appear to be
invoking all factual allegations as well as all allegations
of each of the proceeding counts and leaving it to the Court
to sift out irrelevancies and decide for itself which facts
are relevant to the particular causes of action asserted. As
the Court previously admonished, this manner of pleading is
unacceptable in the Eleventh Circuit. See Order
(Doc. 5) at 2 (“In the Eleventh Circuit, shotgun
pleadings of this sort are ‘altogether
unacceptable.'” (quoting Cramer v. State of
Fla., 117 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 1997)).
Accordingly, the Court will once again strike the pleading
and direct Plaintiffs to file a third amended complaint
consisent with directives of this Order. See Cramer,
117 F.3d at 1263 (admonishing district court for not striking
shotgun complaint on its own initiative); see also
Weiland, 792 F.3d at 1321 n.10 ("[W]e have also
advised that when a defendant fails to [move for a more
definite statement], the district court ought to take the
initiative to dismiss or strike the shotgun pleading and give
the plaintiff an opportunity to
replead."). In accordance with the foregoing, it is
1. Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint of Qui Tam
Plaintiffs Paula C. Lorona and Reid Potter (Doc. 14) is
2. Plaintiffs shall file a third amended complaint consistent
with the directives of this Order on or before May
18, 2018. Failure to do so may result in a dismissal
of this action.
3. Defendants shall respond to the amended complaint in
accordance with the requirements of Rule 15 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure.
 The Court notes that having explained
how the Complaint violated the shotgun pleading rule and
sua sponte given Plaintiffs an opportunity to
re-plead, the Court could dismiss this action in light of
Plaintiffs' failure to file a compliant pleading. See
Vibe Micro, Inc. v. Shabanets, 878 F.3d 1291, 1296 (11th
Cir. 2018) (affirming district court's dismissal with
prejudice of federal claims on shotgun pleading grounds after
court gave plaintiff an opportunity to remedy the shotgun
pleading issues and plaintiff failed to do so). Nonetheless,
under the circumstances of this case, the Court finds it
appropriate to allow Plaintiffs one additional opportunity to
fix the shotgun nature of the pleadings. However, Plaintiffs