103 F.R.D. 96 (E.D.Wis. 1984), 83-C-0005, Armstrong v. Snyder

Docket Nº83-C-0005.
Citation103 F.R.D. 96
Opinion JudgeWARREN, District Judge.
Party NameDennis Ray ARMSTRONG, Plaintiff, v. Thomas A. SNYDER, Sheriff of Fond Du Lac County, Defendant.
AttorneyKarl-Mario Dunst, Corp. Counsel, Fond Du Lac, Wis., and Joseph D. McDevitt, Borgelt, Powell, Peterson & Frauen, Milwaukee, Wis., for defendant. Dennis Armstrong, pro se.
Case DateSeptember 05, 1984
CourtUnited States District Courts, 7th Circuit, Eastern District of Wisconsin

Page 96

103 F.R.D. 96 (E.D.Wis. 1984)

Dennis Ray ARMSTRONG, Plaintiff,

v.

Thomas A. SNYDER, Sheriff of Fond Du Lac County, Defendant.

No. 83-C-0005.

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin.

September 5, 1984

Page 97

Prisoner brought damages action against county sheriff for injuries allegedly suffered from conditions while he was pretrial detainee at county jail. The District Court, Warren, J., held that: (1) prisoner's request for more definite statement of answer was unwarranted in absence of requirement that prisoner prepare pleading responsive to answer; (2) sheriff's request that judgment be entered dismissing complaint could not be characterized as immaterial or inappropriate; (3) somewhat conclusory nature of several allegations in complaint was not sufficiently serious defect to justify wholesale dismissal of complaint for failure to state claim, and possibility existed that prisoner would be able to adduce evidence in support of claims on which some relief might be fashioned; (4) prisoner's motion to compel discovery, made prior to effort to resolve differences with sheriff, was premature, and number of interrogatories exceeded limits of local rule; and (5) court-appointed counsel for prisoner was appropriate.

Motions denied; request for counsel granted.

Page 98

Karl-Mario Dunst, Corp. Counsel, Fond Du Lac, Wis., and Joseph D. McDevitt, Borgelt, Powell, Peterson & Frauen, Milwaukee, Wis., for defendant.

Dennis Armstrong, pro se.

DECISION AND ORDER

WARREN, District Judge.

Presently before the Court in this matter are the plaintiff's motions for a more definite and certain statement of the defendant's answer, to strike the prayer for dismissal in that answer, to compel the defendant to answer certain interrogatories, and for appointment of counsel. Also pending is the defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Court, having reviewed and carefully considered these various petitions, concludes, for the reasons stated herein, that all should be denied, with the exception of the plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel.

BACKGROUND

This action was initiated on November 19, 1982, when the plaintiff filed his prolix, narrative-style, eighteen-page complaint in the Western District of Wisconsin, apparently seeking damages from the defendant for injuries he allegedly suffered while he was a pretrial detainee at the Fond du Lac County Jail. On January 3, 1983, upon the plaintiff's petition and a finding of improper venue, Judge John C. Shabaz transferred the case to this district, where it was randomly assigned to this Court for all further proceedings.

By her Order of February 17, 1983, then Magistrate Ruth W. LaFave granted the plaintiff leave to prosecute his action without payment of filing fees and costs or security therefor, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). However, the Magistrate also found that the plaintiff's complaint

fails to conform to the prescriptions of Rule 10 of the F.R.C.P. (copy enclosed) which requires that " all averments of claim or defense shall be made in numbered paragraphs (emphasis mine) the contents of each of which shall be limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances..." The complaint consists of some 15 pages some containing numbered paragraphs, others unnumbered and some repeat numbers previously used. The defendants should not be required to plead to the complaint in its present " hodge podge" form.

Magistrate's Order at 1-2 (February 17, 1983). Accordingly, she ordered the plaintiff to file an amended complaint, in compliance with the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(b), no later than March 11, 1983.

On April 12, 1984, after securing a one-month extension of time in which to comply with the Magistrate's order, the plaintiff filed his " Substituted or Amended Complaint," a four-page, typewritten document, the discrete paragraphs of which are clearly identifiable and consecutively numbered. By this complaint, the plaintiff challenges the conditions of confinement while he was incarcerated at the Fond du Lac County Jail, following his arrest on May 21, 1982, for allegedly selling a controlled substance. The defendant, as sheriff of Fond du Lac County, was allegedly responsible for the supervision and administration of the jail

Page 99

facility throughout the plaintiff's incarceration there.

Although the charges in the complaint are numerous, they all spring from the defendant's alleged failure to make adequate provision for the prisoners' health and safety, personal hygiene, access to legal materials, and other reasonable expectations regarding the conditions of their confinement. Specifically, the plaintiff claims that while incarcerated, he was deprived of nutritional meals, recreational opportunities, minimal requirements for personal hygiene, and adequate medical treatment; that he was confined with other prisoners with serious mental illnesses or communicable diseases and forced to use unsanitary blankets; and that the heating system and washroom facilities at the county jail were wholly inadequate, causing him substantial physical and emotional suffering. The plaintiff further charges that he was placed in solitary confinement without reason and housed in an isolated cell for some 64 days without shoes or clothing; that he was refused access to legal materials and threatened if his demands for access did not stop; and that he was prevented from communicating with family members because of inadequate visiting facilities at the jail.

As a result of the defendant's alleged failure to provide reasonable conditions for confinement at the Fond du Lac County facility, the plaintiff claims to have suffered " embarrassment, humiliation, physical, mental and emotional distress, discomfort and health deterioration." Plaintiff's Amended Complaint at 4 (April 12, 1984). Accordingly, he seeks $150,000.00 in actual damages and $250,000.00 in punitive damages.

On May 19, 1983, the Court found the plaintiff's amended complaint to be in sufficient compliance with Magistrate's LaFave's Order of February 17, 1983, and the requirements of Rule 10(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to warrant the Marshal's service upon the defendant. Some two weeks later, on June 6, 1983, the defendant filed his answer, denying all substantive allegations in the complaint and asking that judgment be entered " dismissing the complaint ... and awarding defendant his costs, disbursements and attorney's fees of this action." Defendant's Answer at 2 (June 6, 1983). On June 24, 1983, the defendant filed an amended answer, incorporating the general denials and prayer for dismissal contained in the original and noticing his demand for trial by jury, pursuant to Rule 38(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Since that time, the plaintiff, as indicated above, has filed a motion for a more definite statement of the defendant's answer, presumably pursuant to Rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; a motion to strike from the answer the defendant's request that the action be dismissed, presumably pursuant to Rule 12(f); a motion to compel answers to certain interrogatory questions pursuant to Rule 37(a)(2); and a request for appointment of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). In addition, the defendant has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the basis that it does not state a claim upon which relief can be granted. With today's order, the Court resolves each of these pending motions, beginning with those relating to the initial pleadings of the parties.

The Plaintiff's Motions For A More Definite Statement And To Strike And The Defendant's Motion To Dismiss

By his motion of July 5, 1983, the plaintiff seeks a court order directing the defendant to file a more definite statement in his answer to the allegations in the complaint. In support of his petition, the plaintiff argues that the answer is " to indefinite, uncertain, and vague to enable the plaintiff to plead thereto and because said answer fails to disclose and it cannot be ascertained therefrom any denials, specifically, to each individual...

To continue reading

Request your trial
20 practice notes
  • 116 F.R.D. 460 (W.D.Okl. 1987), CIV-86-1401-W, United States v. Hardage
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 10th Circuit Western District of Oklahoma
    • February 25, 1987
    ...demonstrate it will be prejudiced significantly if the attacked allegations are left in the pleadings. See e.g., Armstrong v. Snyder, 103 F.R.D. 96, 100 (E.D.Wis.1984); 5 C. Wright and A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil, § Upon a critical examination of the evidence before it,......
  • 513 F.Supp.2d 1037 (W.D.Wis. 2007), 06-C-0658, McCullough v. Lindblade
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 7th Circuit Western District of Wisconsin
    • October 12, 2007
    ...Wright and Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure Civil 2d § 1382, at 690-92 (1990) (citations omitted); Armstrong v. Snyder, 103 F.R.D. 96, 100 (E.D.Wis.1984). Therefore, her motion to strike will be Next, defendant argues that he is entitled to summary judgment because plaintiff......
  • 683 F.Supp. 127 (W.D.Pa. 1988), Civ. A. 88-86, Zappala v. Hub Foods, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit
    • April 18, 1988
    ...Id. A motion to strike is not the proper device for placing the actual merits of the party's pleadings in issue. Armstrong v. Snyder, 103 F.R.D. 96, 100 Because: (1) there appears to be a genuine issue of fact and law over the date when the statute of limitations began to run on First City'......
  • Schlosser v. University of Tennessee, 102014 TNEDC, 3:12-CV-534
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit Eastern District of Tennessee
    • October 20, 2014
    ...or offensive." Hughes v. Lavender , 2:10-CV-674, 2011 WL 2945843, at *2 (S.D. Ohio July 20, 2011) (citing Armstrong v. Snyder , 103 F.R.D. 96, 100 (E.D. Wis. 1984)). "An allegation may be stricken for being immaterial only when it bears no possible relationship to the controversy.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • 116 F.R.D. 460 (W.D.Okl. 1987), CIV-86-1401-W, United States v. Hardage
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 10th Circuit Western District of Oklahoma
    • February 25, 1987
    ...demonstrate it will be prejudiced significantly if the attacked allegations are left in the pleadings. See e.g., Armstrong v. Snyder, 103 F.R.D. 96, 100 (E.D.Wis.1984); 5 C. Wright and A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil, § Upon a critical examination of the evidence before it,......
  • 513 F.Supp.2d 1037 (W.D.Wis. 2007), 06-C-0658, McCullough v. Lindblade
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 7th Circuit Western District of Wisconsin
    • October 12, 2007
    ...Wright and Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure Civil 2d § 1382, at 690-92 (1990) (citations omitted); Armstrong v. Snyder, 103 F.R.D. 96, 100 (E.D.Wis.1984). Therefore, her motion to strike will be Next, defendant argues that he is entitled to summary judgment because plaintiff......
  • 683 F.Supp. 127 (W.D.Pa. 1988), Civ. A. 88-86, Zappala v. Hub Foods, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit
    • April 18, 1988
    ...Id. A motion to strike is not the proper device for placing the actual merits of the party's pleadings in issue. Armstrong v. Snyder, 103 F.R.D. 96, 100 Because: (1) there appears to be a genuine issue of fact and law over the date when the statute of limitations began to run on First City'......
  • Schlosser v. University of Tennessee, 102014 TNEDC, 3:12-CV-534
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit Eastern District of Tennessee
    • October 20, 2014
    ...or offensive." Hughes v. Lavender , 2:10-CV-674, 2011 WL 2945843, at *2 (S.D. Ohio July 20, 2011) (citing Armstrong v. Snyder , 103 F.R.D. 96, 100 (E.D. Wis. 1984)). "An allegation may be stricken for being immaterial only when it bears no possible relationship to the controversy.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results