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Liberto v. Geisinger Hospital

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 30, 2018

LUISA LIBERTO, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
GEISINGER HOSPITAL, et al., Defendants

          Kane Judge

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Martin C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Statement of Fact and of the Case

         This pro se, in forma pauperis lawsuit comes before us for consideration of a motion for more definite statement filed by the defendant, Geisinger Medical Center. (Doc. 22.) This motion raises a well-founded concern that the plaintiffs' allegations are insufficiently pleaded to allow for an intelligible response by the defendants.

         An examination of the plaintiffs' complaint indicates that the plaintiffs are attempting to bring some sort of employment discrimination lawsuit since they caption this pleading as a “Complaint for Employment Discrimination.” (Doc. 1.) What then follows, though, is a collection of workplace complaints by Luisa Liberto relating to a wide array of matters such as access to office keys, requests to change work cubicles, laptop computer access, and workplace ventilation and acoustics. (Id.) In addition, the plaintiffs allege that Liberto's son, Jeffrey Liberto, who allegedly suffers from some developmental disability, was subjected to some form of discrimination during his volunteer work at the hospital. (Id.)

         While this much is clear, the manner in which the plaintiffs' grievances are expressed often defies understanding. Thus, it is often difficult to discern how specific actions alleged by the plaintiffs are related to discrimination in violation of federal law. It is also frequently difficult to discern precisely what type of discrimination is being alleged by the plaintiffs since the compliant simply asserts in a conclusory fashion discrimination based upon race, color and disability, but often does not link alleged workplace disputes to any of these allegations of discrimination. For example, the complaint sets forth the following narrative which defies any ready response, with the plaintiffs alleging that the defendants were:

         (Image Omitted)

(Id.)

         Presented with this form of complaint, the defendants have filed a motion seeking a more definite statement of the plaintiffs' claims pursuant to Rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This motion is fully briefed by the parties and is, therefore, ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, finding that the plaintiffs' pleadings are “so vague or ambiguous that the [defendants] cannot reasonably prepare a response, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e), this motion for a more definite statement, (Doc. 22) will be GRANTED.

         II. Discussion

         In assessing the adequacy of a complaint, the Supreme Court of the United States 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, 678 (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 ...


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