Woody v. Sterling Aluminum Products, Inc.

Decision Date01 July 1965
Docket NumberNo. 63 C 345(3).,63 C 345(3).
Citation243 F. Supp. 755
PartiesJohn WOODY et al., Plaintiffs, v. STERLING ALUMINUM PRODUCTS, INC., et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri

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Jerome J. Duff, St. Louis, Mo., for plaintiffs.

Bartlett, Muldoon, Stix & Bartlett, St. Louis, Mo., for defendant Sterling Aluminum Products, Inc.

Bartley & Siegel, Clayton, Mo., for defendants International Ass'n of Machinists and others.

Norris Allen and Wm. B. Anderson, Anderson, Gilbert, Wolfort, Allen & Bierman, St. Louis, Mo., for defendant Lincoln Nat. Life Ins. Co. REGAN, District Judge.

This matter is now before the Court on motions directed to all counts of plaintiffs' second amended complaint, other than Count IV, which has heretofore been voluntarily dismissed by plaintiffs. Also before the Court is plaintiffs' motion for a new trial on the Summary Judgment heretofore entered on Count III of plaintiffs' first amended complaint. The second amended complaint was filed pursuant to leave granted on January 26, 1965, after the Court sustained motions of various defendants to dismiss Counts I, II, and IV of the first amended complaint. A renewed "plethora of motions" has resulted.

Rule 8(a) requires that every pleading setting forth a claim for relief shall contain both a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends and a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Moreover, Rule 8(e) requires that "each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct." The second amended complaint is violative of Rule 8.

The complaint we are considering is plaintiffs' third essay to state one or more claims for relief within the jurisdiction of this Court. In attempting to defend their first amended complaint, and urging that they be allowed "to commence" a voyage in what they designated "as a relatively uncharted sea", plaintiffs conceded: "Plaintiffs are aware that the complaint herein is lengthy, involved and sometimes complicated in its terminology."

As applied to the second amended complaint, the foregoing characterization is an understatement. In this complaint, plaintiffs have not only retained the verbosity and the involved averments of the first amended complaint, but have woven additional allegations therein intermingling (often in the same sentence) numerous inconsistent statements. The statement of plaintiffs' claim is neither short nor plain. So, too, the averments of the complaint are neither simple, concise nor direct. Granted that the nature of this case may well require a more lengthy and detailed statement of plaintiffs' claims than would ordinarily be adequate, we nevertheless find no justification for the unduly prolix, involved, repetitious and confusing nature of the pleading.

By way of example, without any proper separation of the inconsistent allegations, plaintiffs plead that defendants conspired and colluded (and successfully) to draft the collective bargaining agreement so that it authorized, without legal liability, the very conduct which is alleged to constitute a breach of the agreement, and damages are sought both for the collusion and the breach of contract.

Although Rule 8 authorizes pleading in the alternative and without regard to consistency, we believe that at the very least inconsistent claims should be separately stated, so that the other party may be enabled to "state in short and plain terms his defenses to each claim" (Rule 8). Defendants are confronted with an almost impossible task of preparing responsive pleadings unless the Court intervenes, and as to Count I, defendants must speculate as to the number and nature of the claims plaintiffs intend to set forth. This problem is posed not merely by the wordiness or even the redundancy of the complaint, but also by the disorganized, and equivocal verbiage employed, replete with "and/or"s.

The second amended complaint wholly fails to "comply with the fundamental principles of good pleading." Cf. Catanzaritti v. Bianco, D.C.Pa., 25 F. Supp. 457; Collier v. First Michigan Cooperative Housing Association, 6th Cir., 274 F.2d 467, and Kappus v. Western Hills Oil, Inc., D.C.Wis., 24 F.R.D. 123, 2 F.R.Serv.2d, 4 F. 22, Case 2.

As we have noted, Rule 8(a) also requires the pleading to set forth a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends. In paragraph 1 of Count I (realleged and adopted by reference in each of Counts II, V and VI) plaintiffs assert that jurisdiction lies under various enumerated statutes of the United States, leaving to the Court and the other parties the task of analyzing and determining the relevancy and pertinency of the cited statutes to each claim and in relation to each of the defendants.

Some of the cited statutes appear to have been chosen at random. Thus, plaintiffs assert, but without any explanation, that the Court has jurisdiction of the action under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C.A. §§ 151 to 158. Plaintiffs also cite the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, Title 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 401, 402, 411 to 415, and 433, all of which we have read in light of the averments of the complaint, but still remain at a loss as to their pertinency. Among other statutory citations, apparently picked indiscriminately are Sections 160 and 163 of Title 29, the National Labor Relations Act. There are, of course, other statutory provisions which conceivably could have application, but only as to some defendants and to some claims. Enough has been stated to demonstrate that plaintiffs have not set forth a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, as contemplated by Rule 8.

Plaintiffs' derelictions in complying with Rule 8 have increased with each amended complaint. We hold that their gross disregard of the explicit requirements of Rule 8(a) and (e) require the dismissal of the second amended complaint. Ordinarily, such a dismissal should be without prejudice, with leave to file still another amended complaint which, hopefully, will be in conformity with the requirements of the rule. In determining whether leave to amend should be granted in this case, we now consider the various motions filed by the defendants relating to the sufficiency of the second amended complaint both on the merits and on the question of jurisdiction. We also consider plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. We bear in mind that a complaint (and this necessarily includes each count thereof) "is to be liberally construed, and a dismissal is not warranted unless it is clear that plaintiff would be entitled to no relief under any state of facts that might be proved in support of the complaint." Fowler v. Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company, 5th Cir., 343 F.2d 150, 153. See also Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47-48, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80, and Beacon Theatres, Inc. v. Westover, 359 U.S. 500, 506, 79 S.Ct. 948, 3 L.Ed. 2d 988.

As filed, the present complaint had six counts. Count IV is directed solely against defendants Larry Connors, Trustee, Bela Deutsch, Trustee, and Reverend Poelker, Trustee. On February 17, 1965, plaintiffs dismissed this count without prejudice. However, plaintiffs do not attempt to state any claim against these defendants in any other count of the complaint. It follows that this action should be dismissed as to said defendants for failure to state a claim.

The remaining defendants are Sterling Aluminum Products Co. (Sterling); International Association of Machinists (International); District No. 9, International Association of Machinists (Union); Local Lodge 41 of the International Association of Machinists (Local); Larry Connors, individually, directing business representative of District No. 9 (Connors) and Russell Davis, individually, business representative of District No. 9 (Davis). International, District No. 9 and Local are sometimes hereinafter referred to collectively as Unions, and Connors and Davis as labor officials or union representatives.

Count III, which affects only defendant Sterling, merely readopts and realleges by reference all of the paragraphs of Count III of the first amended complaint, expressly taking note, however, of the summary judgment which this Court heretofore entered against plaintiffs and in favor of defendant Sterling upon submission of their cross-motions for summary judgment on Count III. The reallegation of Count III of the first amended complaint apparently was due to plaintiffs' desire to avoid any contention that they have abandoned the claim by pleading over and to evidence their intention to preserve it. At the oral argument of plaintiffs motion for new trial on Count III, plaintiffs counsel stated that although he would not withdraw the motion he did not care to press it. The Court has duly considered the motion for new trial and has concluded that the motion should be and it is hereby overruled. However, we will hereafter advert to Count III and the claim therein stated in ruling the issues presented by the motions to dismiss Counts I, II, V and VI.

All defendants have moved to dismiss Count I and plaintiffs have filed a motion for summary judgment based on that count, but directed only against defendant Sterling. We briefly review the course of this proceeding in order to place the present motions in their proper prospective. This suit stemmed from the action of Sterling, more than six months prior to the filing of the original complaint, in closing its St. Charles plant in which plaintiffs had been employed under a collective bargaining agreement negotiated on their behalf by District No. 9, as the bargaining agent of plaintiffs. Plaintiffs motion for partial (money) summary judgment against Sterling, filed October 23, 1963, was rendered functus officio by the filing of plaintiffs first amended complaint on November 16, 1963. On...

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