602 F.2d 743 (5th Cir. 1979), 77-1188, Gordon v. Green

Docket Nº:77-1188.
Citation:602 F.2d 743
Party Name:Edwin F. GORDON, Plaintiff-Appellant, Cross-Appellee, v. E. G. GREEN et al., Defendants-Appellees, Gustave T. Broberg, Jr., Defendant-Appellee, Cross-Appellant.
Case Date:September 18, 1979
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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602 F.2d 743 (5th Cir. 1979)

Edwin F. GORDON, Plaintiff-Appellant, Cross-Appellee,

v.

E. G. GREEN et al., Defendants-Appellees,

Gustave T. Broberg, Jr., Defendant-Appellee, Cross-Appellant.

No. 77-1188.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

September 18, 1979

Rehearing Granted in Part and Denied in Part Nov. 19, 1979.

Di Giulian, Spellacy & Bernstein, Sidney T. Bernstein, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., W. E. Quisenberry, for appellant Gordon.

Fowler, White, Burnett, Hurley, Banick & Knight, Michael J. Cappucio, Miami, Fla., for appellee Barley.

Lowndes, Peirsol, Drosdick & Doster, Ernest J. Rice, James M. Spoonhour, Orlando, Fla., for appellees Overstreets.

Bedell, Bedell, Dittmar & Zehmer, Chester Bedell, Peter D. Webster, Jacksonville, Fla., for appellee-cross-appellant Gustave T. Broberg, Jr.

Fowler, White, Gillen, Boggs, Villareal & Banker, Wm. A. Gillen, Tampa, Fla., for appellee-cross-appellant Broberg.

Jones, Paine & Foster, Sidney A. Stubbs, Jr., Margaret L. Cooper, West Palm Beach, Fla., for appellee E. G. Green.

Smathers & Thompson, Earl D. Waldin, Jr., Miami, Fla., for appellees Heftler, Rhoades, Heye, Sherrill, Coleman, William & Henry Rudkin and Samuel & Dudley Sutphin.

Barwick, Bentley, Hayes & Karesh, M. Cook Barwick, Julian D. Halliburton, Atlanta, Ga., for appellant Gordon.

Robert W. Hayes, Gary L. Seacrest, Atlanta, Ga., for appellant Gordon.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before BROWN, Chief Judge, TUTTLE and HILL, Circuit Judges.

JOHN R. BROWN, Chief Judge:

As we see it, the only issue currently before the Court in these five consolidated cases 1 is whether verbose, confusing, scandalous,

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and repetitious pleadings totaling into the thousands of pages comply with the requirement of "a short and plain statement" set forth in F.R.Civ.P. 8. We think that the mere description of the issue provides the answer: 2 we direct the District Court to dismiss the complaints with leave to amend because of appellant's failure to comply with F.R.Civ.P. 8(a) and (e).

The Pleadings: Gobbledygook

The appellant, Edwin F. Gordon, invested several million dollars in a series of Florida real estate syndications. When the promises of substantial profits failed to materialize, appellant filed suit against the sellers and promoters of the syndications, claiming various violations of the federal securities laws. 3

Under F.R.Civ.P. 8, a party seeking relief must submit a pleading containing "a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends," F.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1), and "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." F.R.Civ.P. 8(a) (2). In addition, F.R.Civ.P. 8(e)(1) states that "[e]ach averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct." As the following factual account demonstrates, nothing was further from the minds of appellant and his lawyer than the clear directions contained in F.R.Civ.P. 8(a) and (e).

These five consolidated cases were originally brought in the Southern District of New York in March and April of 1976. At this initial stage, appellant filed five separate long, verbose, and confusing verified complaints containing a total of 165 typewritten pages and an additional 413 pages of exhibits. In one of the five cases, appellant filed an amendment to the verified complaint (8 pages plus 39 pages of exhibits).

By stipulation, the cases were transferred to the Southern District of Florida. The Florida Court proposed to dismiss appellant's complaints for violation of Rule 8, but did not actually do so when appellant introduced a single complaint and filed a motion to consolidate. The motion to consolidate was eventually denied.

In September 1976, the Trial Court ordered a hearing on various motions, primarily motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b). One week prior to the hearing and without seeking leave to amend appellant filed an "Amendment to Verified Complaint" for each of the actions. Each "Amendment to Verified Complaint" was 19 pages. On September 30, 1976, the Trial Court dismissed the action, but Not for failure to comply with Rule 8. Rather, after combing through the mountain of pages before him, the Trial Judge concluded that appellant failed to establish federal court jurisdiction. 4 Subsequently, appellant topped his mountain of legal papers with a fourth set of complaints and a motion for leave to amend. The motion was summarily denied.

"Let Thy Speech Be Short, Comprehending Much In Few Words"

5

The various complaints, amendments, amended amendments, amendments to amended amendments, and other related papers are anything but short, totaling over 4,000 pages, occupying 18 volumes, and requiring

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a hand truck or cart to move. 6 They are not plain, either. The Trial Court described the pleadings as being "extremely long and combin(ing) into single counts detailed recitation of evidence and legal arguments complete with extensive citations of authority." The Court also observed that a paragraph from one typical complaint was single spaced, "extend(ed) the full length of a legal page and constitute(d) a single sentence." Much of the pleadings are scandalous as well. 7 Moreover, we cannot tell whether complaints filed earlier in time are to be read in conjunction with those filed later or...

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