United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
LAWRENCE E. RUF, Plaintiff,
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., and HSBC, USA., N.A., Defendants.
STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, (doc. 5), Plaintiff's
Motion for Extension of Time to Respond to that Motion, (doc.
9), Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended
Complaint, (doc. 13), and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
the Amended Complaint, (doc. 15). For the reasons and in the
manner set forth below, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's Motion for Leave, (doc. 13), and
DISMISSES AS MOOT Defendants' Motions to
Dismiss (docs. 5, 15), as well as Plaintiff's Motion for
Extension of Time, (doc. 9).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a plaintiff may amend
his complaint once as a matter of right either within
twenty-one days after serving it or within twenty-one days
after service of a required responsive pleading or motion.
However, as to all other amendments, a plaintiff may only
amend “with the opposing party's written consent or
with the court's leave” which the court
“should freely give . . . when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “The thrust of
Rule 15(a) is to allow parties to have their claims heard on
the merits, and accordingly, district courts should liberally
grant leave to amend when ‘the underlying facts or
circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper
subject of relief.'” In re Engle Cases,
767 F.3d 1082, 1108 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). “The district
court, however, need not ‘allow an amendment (1) where
there has been undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, or
repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
previously allowed; (2) where allowing amendment would cause
undue prejudice to the opposing party; or (3) where amendment
would be futile.” Corsello v. Lincare, Inc.,
428 F.3d 1008, 1014 (11th Cir. 2005).
oppose Plaintiff's Motion to Amend on grounds of
futility. (Doc. 14.) They contend his proposed amended
complaint does not address deficiencies in his original
Complaint and raises new unsuccessful causes of action. (Doc.
14.) Without opining on the merits of Defendants'
arguments, the Court does not find Plaintiff's Motion to
Amend so frivolous that he should not be granted leave to
amend. Therefore, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended
Complaint, (doc. 13).
the Court will not permit Plaintiff to file an amended
complaint that supplements or “incorporates by
reference” his original Complaint as Plaintiff's
proposed amended complaint seeks to do. (See Doc.
13-1.) Multiple piecemeal complaints that reference one
another create confusion and prove to be unwieldy. The better
course is for Plaintiff to have one pleading that sets forth
all his allegations and claims against Defendants. Therefore,
the Court ORDERS Plaintiff to file a single
comprehensive “Amended Complaint” within
twenty-one days of the date of this Order.
This complaint should not reference or incorporate
Plaintiff's prior pleadings. Rather, in his Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff must set forth all allegations and
claims he seeks to assert against Defendants in this lawsuit.
Court advises Plaintiff, a pro se litigant, that Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a complaint to include
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Moreover, Rule
A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered
paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single
set of circumstances. A later pleading may refer by number to
a paragraph in an earlier pleading. If doing so would promote
clarity, each claim founded on a separate transaction or
occurrence-and each defense other than a denial-must be
stated in a separate count or defense.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b). Additionally, the United States Court
of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and this Court strongly
discourage “shotgun pleadings.” The Eleventh
Circuit has summarized the courts' disdain for these
types of complaints as follows:
Complaints that violate either Rule 8(a)(2) or Rule 10(b), or
both, are often disparagingly referred to as “shotgun
pleadings.” The first published opinion to discuss
shotgun pleadings in any meaningful way (albeit in a
dissenting footnote) described the problem with shotgun
pleadings under the federal rules. See T.D.S. Inc. v.
Shelby Mut. Ins. Co., 760 F.2d 1520 (11th Cir. 1985).
The footnote, which began by quoting Rules 8(a)(2) and 10(b),
The purpose of these rules is self-evident, to require the
pleader to present his claims discretely and succinctly, so
that, his adversary can discern what he is claiming and frame
a responsive pleading, the court can determine which facts
support which claims and whether the plaintiff has stated any
claims upon which relief can be granted, and, at trial, the
court can determine that evidence which is relevant and that
which is not. “Shotgun” pleadings, calculated to
confuse the “enemy, ” and the court, so that
theories for relief not provided by law and which can
prejudice an opponent's case, especially before the jury,
can be masked, are flatly forbidden by the [spirit], if not
the [letter], of these rules.
Id. at 1544 n. 14 (Tjoflat, J., dissenting). That
footnote described the complaint at issue in T.D.S.
as “a paradigmatic shotgun pleading, containing a
variety of contract and tort claims interwoven in a haphazard
. . . At times we have used the term “shotgun
pleading” to mean little more than “poorly
drafted complaint.” In the hope that we could impose
some clarity on what we have said and done about unclear
complaints, we have examined more than sixty published
decisions issued since the T.D.S. decision in 1985.
One thing we looked for is how many types of shotgun
pleadings have been used, wittingly or unwittingly, by
attorneys and litigants.
Though the groupings cannot be too finely drawn, we have
identified four rough types or categories of shotgun
pleadings. The most common type-by a long shot-is a complaint
containing multiple counts where each count adopts the
allegations of all preceding counts, causing each successive
count to carry all that came before and the last count to be
a combination of the entire complaint. The next most common
type, at least as far as our published opinions on the
subject reflect, is a complaint that does not commit the
mortal sin of re-alleging all preceding counts but is guilty
of the venial sin of being replete with conclusory, vague,
and immaterial facts not obviously connected to any
particular cause of action. The third type of shotgun
pleading is one that commits the sin of not separating into a
different count each cause of action or claim for relief.
Fourth, and finally, there is the relatively rare sin of
asserting multiple claims against multiple defendants without
specifying which of the defendants are responsible for which
acts or omissions, or which of the defendants the claim is
brought against. The unifying characteristic of all types of
shotgun pleadings is that they fail to one degree or another,
and in one way or another, to give the defendants adequate
notice of the claims against them and the grounds upon which
each claim rests.
Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792
F.3d 1313, 1320-22 (11th Cir. 2015) (internal citations and