United States District Court, S.D. Florida
BLOOM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendants Jose
Gonzalez and David Colon's (“Defendants”)
Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or, Alternatively, for a More
Definite Statement, ECF No.  (“Motion to
Dismiss”), and Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery
and for Relief from Pretrial Deadlines Pending Ruling on
Motion to Dismiss, ECF No.  (“Motion to
Stay”), (collectively, “Motions”).
Plaintiff Christopher Maurice McDowell
(“Plaintiff”) filed responses to each Motion, ECF
Nos.  & , to which Defendants replied, ECF Nos.
 & . The Court has carefully reviewed the
Motions, all opposing and supporting submissions, the record
in this case, and the applicable law, and is otherwise fully
advised. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to
Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part; the Motion to
Stay is denied as moot.
se Plaintiff initiated this action on July 26, 2019, ECF
No.  (“Complaint”), which appears to allege
facts surrounding a false arrest, assault, and unlawful
detention, against Defendants Jose Gonzalez, an officer of
the Miami-Dade Police Department (“MDPD”), and
David Colon, an MDPD sergeant. See ECF No.  at
25. Plaintiff's Complaint describes incidents that
transpired on March 19, 2019, at a Dunkin' Donuts.
Id. at 4-8. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he
entered the Dunkin' Donuts to purchase coffee and, after
repeatedly attempting to purchase coffee but being denied,
engaged in a verbal altercation with the cashier, which
ultimately resulted in Plaintiff being asked to leave the
store. Id. at 6-8. Plaintiff was later apprehended
by MDPD officers after they received a complaint alleging
that a man had entered Dunkin' Donuts, stolen $7.00 out
of the tip jar, and fled on foot. Id. at 28-29. The
victim positively identified Plaintiff as the individual who
removed the $7.00 from the tip jar. Id. at 29.
Accordingly, Plaintiff was arrested, charged with petit
theft, and held in jail overnight until he appeared before a
state court judge, who released him on his own recognizance.
Id. at 16-17, 29.
describes numerous conversations with Officer Gonzalez,
during which he repeatedly stated that he had not stolen any
money from the tip jar and that the surveillance cameras at
Dunkin' Donuts - which, Plaintiff alleges, Officer
Gonzalez indicated having already watched at the time of the
arrest - would clearly establish Plaintiff's innocence.
Id. at 10-13. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that
he was illegally arrested and detained for a crime he did not
commit and that, while being arrested, he was assaulted
several times. Id. at 25. However, Plaintiff's
Complaint does not set forth any of his asserted causes of
action or the law under which he brings these causes of
action. See id.
instant Motion to Dismiss, Defendants move for dismissal
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), based
on their qualified immunity, because they had probable cause
to arrest Plaintiff and that Plaintiff has failed to state a
claim to support any violation of clearly established
constitutional rights. ECF No.  at 1-2. In the
alternative, Defendants request that, pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e), the Court order Plaintiff to
amend his Complaint to provide a more definite statement
because Defendants are unable to decipher what claims are
asserted or how many claims are asserted. Id. at 3.
Moreover, in their Motion to Stay, Defendants request for
this Court to stay all discovery pending the resolution of
their qualified immunity claims in their Motion to Dismiss.
ECF No. .
Motion to Dismiss
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires that a pleading
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although a complaint “does not
need detailed factual allegations, ” it must provide
“more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (explaining that Rule 8(a)(2)'s pleading standard
“demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation”). In the
same vein, a complaint may not rest on “‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(alteration in original) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 557). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. These elements are
required to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, which requests
dismissal for “failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” When reviewing a motion under
Rule 12(b)(6), a court generally must accept the
plaintiff's allegations as true and evaluate all
plausible inferences derived from those facts in
plaintiff's favor. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of
Fla. v. S. Everglades Restoration All., 304 F.3d 1076,
1084 (11th Cir. 2002). “‘Pro se
pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than
pleadings drafted by attorneys' and are liberally
construed.” Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171,
1175 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Tannenbaum v. United
States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998)).
“Yet even in the case of pro se litigants this
leniency does not give a court license to serve as de
facto counsel for a party, or to rewrite an otherwise
deficient pleading in order to sustain an action.”
Campbell v. Air Jamaica Ltd., 760 F.3d 1165, 1168-69
(11th Cir. 2014) (quoting GJR Invs., Inc. v. Cty. Of
Escambia, Fla., 132 F.3d 1359, 1369 (11th Cir. 1998)).
courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678; Thaeter v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's
Office, 449 F.3d 1342, 1352 (11th Cir. 2006). Moreover,
“courts may infer from the factual allegations in the
complaint ‘obvious alternative explanations,' which
suggest lawful conduct rather than the unlawful conduct the
plaintiff would ask the court to infer.” Am. Dental
Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir.
2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 682). On a 12(b)
motion, courts are generally limited to the facts contained
in the complaint and attached exhibits, including documents
referred to in the complaint that are central to the claim.
Wilchombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949, 959
(11th Cir. 2009); see also Maxcess, Inc. v. Lucent
Techs., Inc., 433 F.3d 1337, 1340 n.3 (11th Cir. 2005)
(“[A] document outside the four corners of the
complaint may still be considered if it is central to the
plaintiff's claims and is undisputed in terms of
authenticity.” (citing Horsley v. Feldt, 304
F.3d 1125, 1135 (11th Cir. 2002))).
Motion for a More Definite Statement
Rule 12(e), “a party may move for a more definite
statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is
allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party
cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(e). Because courts liberally construe the pleading
standard under Rule 8(a), “a short and plain
statement” will be enough, unless, upon motion, a party
establishes that the pleading “is so ambiguous that
[they] cannot reasonably” respond. Betancourt v.
Marine Cargo Mgm't, Inc., 930 F.Supp. 606, 608 (S.D.