Baker v. County of Merced, 1:10-cv-2377 AWI SMS

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Decision Date29 April 2011
Docket NumberDoc. No. 8 No. 11,1:10-cv-2377 AWI SMS
PartiesROBERTA BAKER,Plaintiff, v. COUNTY OF MERCED, a public entity,Defendant.

COUNTY OF MERCED, a public entity, Defendant.

1:10-cv-2377 AWI SMS
Nos. 8, 11


Dated: April 29, 2011


This is an employment discrimination claim brought by Plaintiff Roberta Baker ("Baker") against Defendant County of Merced ("the County"). Baker's claims are brought under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The County moves for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the County's motion.

Defendant's Argument

The County argues that there is nothing short or concise about the complaint. It includes details extending back to 1993 and includes argumentative opinions. The allegations preclude or unreasonably inhibit an accurate answer, make the task of determining appropriate defenses unduly difficult, and will unnecessarily complicate discovery and other pre-trial matters.

Plaintiff's Opposition

Baker argues that Rule 12(e) motions should only be granted when a complaint is too vague. The allegations put the County on notice, and the complaint is not as large as other cases

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where Rule 12(e) motions have been denied.1 Further, the cases cited by the County in which dismissal of a complaint was upheld each involved plaintiffs who had been given several opportunities to file amended complaints.

Legal Standard

"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 a party cannot reasonably prepare a response." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). A Rule 12(e) motion is "ordinarily restricted to situations where a pleading suffers from unintelligibility rather than want of detail, and if the requirements of the general rule as to pleadings are satisfied and the opposing party is fairly notified of the nature of the claim such motion is inappropriate." Castillo v. Norton, 219 F.R.D. 155, 163 (D. Ariz., 2003); Sheffield v. Orius Corp., 211 F.R.D. 411, 414-15 (D. Or. 2002). However, the failure to follow Rule 8(d)(1)'s requirement of simple, concise, and direct allegations, see McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177-79 (9th Cir. 1996); Kennedy v. Full Tilt Poker, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41434 *10 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 26, 2010); 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1281 at 709-710 (3d ed. 2004), or the use of a "shotgun pleading," i.e. multiple causes of action incorporate by reference all of the numerous preceding paragraphs, may be grounds for a Rule 12(e) motion. See Byrne v. Nezhat, 261 F.3d 1075, 1129 (11th Cir. 2001); King v. San Francisco Cmty. College Dist., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110012, *9-*11 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 6, 2010); Kim v. Quichocho, 708 F.Supp.2d 1079, 1090-91 (D. N. Mar. I. 2010). Rule 12(e) motions "are not favored by the courts 'since pleadings in the federal courts are only required to fairly notify the opposing party of the nature of the claim.'" Castillo, 219 F.R.D. at 163; Resolution Trust Corp. v. Dean, ...

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