United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MARTIN C. CARLSON, Magistrate Judge.
I. Statement of the Case
The background of this case is as follows:
The plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, commenced this action by filing a praecipe for a summons in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County on December 5, 2013. This praecipe for summons is not a complaint, and contained no factual averments, or intelligible claims. Rather, it simply identified the party that Bey intended to sue, naming the United States Postal Service as the defendant, and demanding payment of $54, 004.14. (Doc.1)
The United States has now removed this case to federal court, (Doc. 1), and filed a motion for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Docs. 2 and 3) Bey responded to this motion by filing an amended "declaration" which states that Bey is a freemen and a free inhabitant of Dauphin County; alleges that the IRS executed a Notice of Levy in 2004 and seized $54, 004.14; and asserts that this nine year old levy was improper because Bey "was not and never involved in cotton and distilled spirits." (Doc. 6) Notably lacking from this "declaration" was anything linking the sole named defendant, the United States Postal Service, in any culpable fashion to this alleged conduct. (Id.)
Because we find this response to be inadequate to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, for the reasons set forth below, the motion for more definite statement (Doc. 2), will be granted, and the plaintiff will be directed to file a proper complaint.
Unlike state practice, which permits the initiation of a lawsuit through the mere filing of a praecipe, federal practice requires more and demands that a plaintiff set forth the allegations he may have against others in a complaint. In assessing the adequacy of complaint, the Supreme Court has advised trial courts that they must:
[B]egin by identifying pleadings that because they are no more than conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
Thus, a well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere legal labels and conclusions. Rather, a complaint must recite factual allegations sufficient to raise the plaintiff's claimed right to relief beyond the level of mere speculation. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has stated when assessing the adequacy of a complaint:
District courts should conduct a two-part analysis. First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts.
Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210-11.
In addition to these pleading rules, a civil complaint must comply with the requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure which defines ...