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WASHINGTON v. REILLY

United States District Court, E.D. New York


February 3, 2004.

JEROME WASHINGTON, Plaintiff; -against- SHERIFF EDWARD REILLY, UNDERSHERIFF MCGUIRE, UNDERSHERIFF ZUARO, UNDERSHERIFF HEAD, CAPT. MURPHY, CAPT. SANTINI, LT. BONIFACE, LT. KELLY, LT. DOLAN, LT. LETSCHER, LT. FORD, SGT. BARON, SGT. CHRISTIANSEN, SGT. SCHWAMM, SGT. NEWMAN, SGT. DAMM, SGT. CAMMARTO, SGT. JORGENSEN, C.O. BAVARO, C.O. STASTWOSKI, C.O. HARVEY, C.O. HUTCH, C.O. LITTLE, C.O. HARRISON, C.O. RODRIGUEZ, CORPORAL BARON, C.O. EVANS, LT. YANNOTA, C.O. MALLIE, CORPORAL MITCHELL, UNDERSHERIFF KOVAIS, Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOANNA SEYBERT, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

This action was commenced by the Plaintiff Jerome Washington ("Plaintiff") on December 16, 2002. Plaintiff asserts claims, apparently pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, against numerous Nassau County employees (collectively the "Defendants"). Currently pending before the Court is the Defendants' motion, Page 2 pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 10, to dismiss the Amended Complaint.

 Discussion

  It is axiomatic that the Court is required to read the Plaintiff's pro se Complaint liberally. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10, 101 S.Ct. 173, 66 L.Ed.2d 163 (1980) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972). Moreover, at this stage of the proceedings, the Court assumes the truth of the allegations in the Complaint. See H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229, 249-50, 109 S.Ct. 2893, 106 L.Ed.2d 195 (1989); Koppel v. 4987 Corp., 167 F.3d 125, 128 (2d Cir. 1999). The Court is further required to liberally construe the pro se Plaintiff's papers "`to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" Soto v. Walker, 44 F.3d 169, 173 (2d Cir. 1995) (quoting Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994)).

  Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in relevant part, that a complaint "shall contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," and "[e]ach averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct." FED. R. CIV. P. 8. The Second Circuit has held that the purpose of this Rule is to provide an adverse party with notice of the claims asserted and to limit the burden imposed on both courts and litigants by unnecessarily verbose and incoherent pleadings. See Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 Page 3 (2d Cir. 1988). "Complaints containing only vague or conclusory accusations and no specific facts regarding the alleged wrongdoing do not allow defendants to frame an intelligent defense and, therefore, are subject to dismissal." Evans v. Nassau County. 184 F. Supp.2d 238, 244 (E.D.N.Y. 2002) (collecting cases).

  Rule 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the form that parties in a federal civil action are required to follow in constructing their pleadings. The Rule provides that: "All averments of claim or defense shall be made in numbered paragraphs, the contents of each of which shall be limited as far as practicable to a statement of a single set of circumstances; and a paragraph may be referred to by number in all succeeding pleadings. Each claim founded upon a separate transaction or occurrence and each defense other than denials shall be stated in a separate count or defense whenever a separation facilitates the clear presentation of the matters set forth." FED. R. CIV. P. 10(b).

  Having reviewed the Amended Complaint, the Court finds that it runs afoul of both Rule 8 and Rule 10. Despite the relaxed pleading requirements for pro se litigants, and even drawing all inferences in favor of the Plaintiff, the Amended Complaint is far too broad and disorganized to satisfy the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. First, the Court notes that although numerous names appear in the caption of the Amended Complaint, not all of the names appear in the body of the pleading Page 4 in connection with the factual allegations. Second, the Court notes that the Plaintiff has filed both an "Amended Complaint" and an affidavit. The two documents contain numerous factual allegations, some overlapping and some unique to the individual documents. It is unclear whether the "affidavit" is meant to supplement the pleading, however, the Plaintiff should be aware that separate causes of action upon which he seeks relief must be included within the pleading and cannot be annexed in an affidavit. Third, the Court notes that the Amended Complaint does not contain numbered paragraphs or even any form of spacing or organization which would allow the Defendants or the Court to navigate the narrative and discern what, if any, claims the Plaintiff properly asserts. Finally, as a general matter, the Court finds that the factual allegations are vague and disorganized, and as such, are far too incomprehensible to require a party to respond to them. Forcing the Defendants to respond to the Amended Complaint, in its current form, would needlessly burden the Defendants.

  As such, the Court finds that the Amended Complaint does not satisfy the pleading requirements of either Rule 8 or Rule 10. However, the Court will not dismiss the claims of the Plaintiff on their merits and this dismissal is without prejudice. The Plaintiff is hereby GRANTED leave to file a second amended complaint. If the Plaintiff chooses to so file, he shall do so in accordance with the following directives:

  1. The pleading shall be set forth in numbered paragraphs. Page 5 Each paragraph shall contain only one factual allegation.

 

2. The factual allegations, set forth in the numbered paragraphs, shall, where possible, be organized in chronological fashion.
3. Each paragraph shall be short and concise and shall state (1) what is alleged to have occurred; (2) where possible, the date and location that the action is alleged to have occurred; (3) which of the Defendants is responsible for the alleged action; and (4) how the alleged action is related to a deprivation of the Plaintiff's rights.
4. If possible, the pleading shall be typewritten. If the pleading must be handwritten, the Plaintiff shall take care to use neat and legible handwriting. Further, the Plaintiff shall write only on one side of each page and shall double space the document by skipping lines on the page.
5. The second amended complaint must be filed with the Court and served on the Defendants, by mailing a copy to their attorney, on or before April 2, 2004. Failure to file the pleading by that date will result in dismissal of the case with prejudice.
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