United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
C. CARLSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Williams, a state prisoner, has filed a civil lawsuit
challenging his arrest and prosecution. (Doc. 1.)
Williams' complaint contains a brief but confusing
factual narrative written in a fashion which presents
significant challenges to the defense in terms of
understanding and responding to the allegations made by the
plaintiff. (Id.) Accordingly, the defendants have
filed a motion for motion definite statement pursuant to Rule
12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 17.)
reasons set forth below, this motion will be granted.
complaint demands much of the reader. The complaint is not
set forth sequentially in numbered paragraphs as required by
Rule 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil procedure, and the
narrative set forth in the pleading appears to mix facts, and
argument, in a fashion that presents significant challenges
for the defendants in endeavoring to respond to these
case such as this, where the plaintiff's claims cannot be
readily and clearly understood, Rule 12(e) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in part, that the court
may order a party to prepare: "a more definite statement
of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but
which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot
reasonably prepare a response." Further, under this rule
"[i]f the court orders a more definite statement and the
order is not obeyed within 14 days after notice of the order
or within the time the court sets, the court may strike the
pleading or issue any other appropriate order." Fed. R.
Civ. P., Rule 12(e).
we find that this particular complaint aptly:
highlight[s] the particular usefulness of the Rule 12(e)
motion for a more definite statement. Under Rule 12(e), [the
court may order] a more definite statement "[i]f a
pleading ... is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot
reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e) ..... When a complaint fashioned under a
notice pleading standard does not disclose the facts
underlying a plaintiff's claim for relief, the defendant
cannot reasonably be expected to frame a proper,
fact-specific . . . defense ..... The Rule 12(e) motion for a
more definite statement is perhaps the best procedural tool
available to the defendant to obtain the factual basis
underlying a plaintiff's claim for relief.
Thomas v. Independence Tp., 463 F.3d 285, 301 (3d
Cir. 2006) Given the legal and factual ambiguity of the
plaintiff's claims, we believe that the plaintiff should
be required to provide a more definite statement of these
claims before the defendants and the court are tasked with
assessing the legal merits of these alleged claims.
Therefore, the plaintiff will be directed pursuant to Rule
12(e) to submit a more definite statement of these claims.
we instruct the plaintiff that in submitting a more definite
statement of his claim this "amended complaint must be
complete in all respects. It must be a new pleading which
stands by itself as an adequate complaint without reference
to the complaint already filed." Young v.
Keohane, 809 F.Supp. 1185, 1198 (M.D. Pa. 1992). See
e.g., Biggins v. Danberg, No. 10-732, 2012 WL 37132 (D.
Del. Jan. 6, 2012); Quirindongo v. Federal Bureau of
Prisons, No. 10-1742, 2011 WL 2456624 (M.D. Pa. June 16,
2011). Therefore, in amending this complaint, the
plaintiff's amended complaint must:
recite factual allegations which are sufficient to raise
the plaintiff's claimed right to relief beyond the
level of mere speculation;
contain "a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,"
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), set forth in averments that are
"concise, and direct," Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e)(1), and;
stated in separately numbered paragraphs describing the
date and time of the events alleged, and identifying
wherever possible the participants in the acts about which
the plaintiff complains.
This complaint must be a new pleading which stands by
itself as an adequate complaint without reference to any
other pleading already filed. Young v. Keohane,
809 F.Supp. 1185, 1198 (M.D. Pa. 1992).
The complaint should set forth plaintiff's claims in
short, concise and plain statements, and in sequentially
It should name proper defendants, specify the offending
actions taken by a particular defendant, be signed, and
indicate the nature of the relief sought.
Further, the claims set forth in the complaint should arise
out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of
transactions or occurrences, and they should contain a
question of law or fact common to all defendants.
Court further places the plaintiff on notice that failure to
comply with this direction may result in the dismissal of
this action pursuant to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Court also notifies the plaintiff that, as a
litigant who has sought leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, his complaint may also be subject to a