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Randolph-Ali v. Steelton Police Department

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 9, 2018

SAMIRA RANDOLPH-ALI, Plaintiff
v.
STEELTON POLIEC DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants

          CONNER CHIEF JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MARTIN C. CARLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Statement of Fact and of The Case

         This is a pro se civil rights lawsuit brought by the plaintiff, Samira Randolph-Ali, against an array of local law enforcement and children and youth agencies and employees. Randolph-Ali commenced this case on August 5, 2016, filing a complaint, (Doc. 1), which she later amended on September 26, 2016. (Doc. 10.)

         We most assuredly do not write upon a blank slate in this case. Quite the contrary, the legal sufficiency of the plaintiff's first amended complaint has been the subject of protracted litigation, a comprehensive Report and Recommendation by our colleague, Judge Mehalchick, (Doc. 13), and a thoughtful decision by the district court. (Doc. 21.) In this January 18, 2017 ruling, the district court dismissed many of Randolph-Ali's claims, dismissing a number of claims with prejudice, but dismissing other claims without prejudice and granting Randolph-Ali the opportunity to amend her complaint. (Id.) Randolph-Ali took advantage of this opportunity afforded by the court and filed a pleading styled as a second amended complaint in this case on March 20, 2017. (Doc. 23.) The defendants moved to dismiss that second amended complaint on April 3, 2017. (Doc. 25.) This motion is fully briefed by the parties and will be the subject of a separate Report and Recommendation.

         Nearly six months then passed until, on September 29, 2017, Randolph-Ali filed a document styled as a third amended complaint. Randolph-Ali filed this pleading while the motion to dismiss her second amended complaint remained pending before the court. Moreover, Randolph-Ali's third amended complaint is virtually identical to the second amended complaint which is the subject of this pending motion to dismiss. Indeed, it appears that Randolph-Ali simply crossed out the word “second” and then wrote in the word “third” on this latest pleading. Moreover, this third amended complaint was filed more than five months after the defendants filed their motion to dismiss, and Randolph-Ali has never sought leave of court to further amend this pleading.

         Citing these facts, the defendants have moved to strike this third amended complaint. (Doc. 34.) This motion is also fully briefed by the parties and is, therefore, ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that this motion to strike be granted.

         II. Discussion

         A. Amendment and Striking of Complaints: Standards of Review

         Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally governs motions to strike pleadings and provides, in part, that:

(f) Motion to Strike. The court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f).

         Rulings on motions to strike rest in the sound discretion of the court. Von Bulow v. Von Bulow, 657 F.Supp. 1134, 1146 (S.D.N.Y. 1987). However, the exercise of this discretion is guided by certain basic principles. For example, when, as in this case, a motion to strike relates to a second or successive amended complaint, other legal considerations come into play.

         At the outset, Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Procedure prescribes certain procedural requirements for amendment of ...


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