United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 153) in
which the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court grant
the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff has filed
Objections (Doc. No. 154) and Defendants have filed a
Response (Doc. No. 155). The Court has conducted a de novo
review of this matter.
an inmate currently housed at South Central Correctional
Facility for committing first degree murder, filed his
original Complaint in this action two years ago.
Plaintiff's 143-page Complaint alleged numerous purported
constitutional and state claims. After initial review of this
matter, the Hon. Kevin Sharp described the Complaint as
“rambling, repetitive, and far-reaching.” (Doc.
No. 7.) However, process was issued for all of the named
defendants. The Defendants subsequently moved the court to
dismiss the Complaint for failure to comply with Rules 8 and
12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. No. 65.)
Plaintiff sought and was granted leave to amend his
Complaint. (Doc. No. 82.) The Hon William J. Haynes, Sr.
granted Plaintiff's request, but explicitly directed him
to file his “superseding amended complaint with a short
statement of the facts for his claims as to each
defendant.” (Doc. No. 128.) Other than making some
minor changes to dates, parties, and paragraphs, the
latest version of the 137-page Complaint essentially mirrors
the original Complaint (and references its many exhibits).
objective of Rule 8 . . . was to make complaints simpler,
rather than more expansive.” Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). Thus, “the only permissible
pleading in a federal district court is a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief on any legally sustainable grounds.”
Harrell v. Dirs. of Bur. of Narcotics & Dangerous
Drugs, 70 F.R.D. 444, 446 (E.D. Tenn. 1975). “This
is to avoid situations, such as is presented here, wherein
the pleading is so verbose that the Court cannot identify
with clarity the claim(s) of the pleader and adjudicate such
claim(s) understandingly on the merits.” Id.
It is, therefore, axiomatic that complaints that are too
long, circuitous, disorganized, confusing, or argumentative
may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.
See, e.g., Plymale v. Freeman, 191 U.S.
App. LEXIS 6996, at *1-3 (6th Cir. 1991) (affirming dismissal
for failure to comply with Rule 8(a)); Morales v. New
York, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71137, at *14 (S.D.N.Y. May
22, 2014) (observing that “complaints that are
argumentative, disjointed and needlessly ramble have
routinely been dismissed. . . .”); Smith v. City of
Chattanooga, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134171, at *4-5 (E.D.
Tenn. Dec. 17, 2010) (dismissing complaint that is
“replete with so much irrelevant information that the
Court is unable to determine the precise nature of
[plaintiff's] claims”); Schied v.
Daughtrey, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104697, at *4 (E.D.
Mich. Dec. 29, 2008) (“When faced with voluminous
pleadings, neither the Court nor opposing counsel should be
required to expend time and effort searching through large
masses of conclusory, argumentative, evidentiary and other
extraneous allegations in order to discovery whether the
essentials of claims asserted can be found in such a
melange.”); Barnard v. Beckstrom, 2007 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 38864, at *9 (E.D. Ky. May 29, 2007) (finding
complaint violated Rule 8 where it contained
“circuitous diatribes far removed from the heart of the
claim. . . .”); Brown v. Knoxville
News-Sentinel, 41 F.R.D. 283 (E.D. Tenn. 1966)
(dismissing 117-page complaint because it was “so
prolix, loosely drawn and involved as to be
latest Complaint is neither short nor plain. The allegations
therein are not simple, concise, and direct. It is 137 pages
in length and contains innumerable footnotes, legal
arguments, and references to numerous extraneous exhibits. It
veers from conclusory to disorganized, and from specific to
overly broad. Given these factors, responding to the
Complaint would place an undue burden on Defendants, and -
just as importantly - the continuation of this action as
currently devised would impose a huge burden on the Court in
attempting to manage this case.
course, this Court must be liberal in its view of the
pleadings and procedures when a litigant undertakes to
present a claim or defense personally. It is not lost on the
Court that when Senior Judge Haynes ordered Plaintiff to
re-file his Complaint containing a short and plain statement
of the facts, Plaintiff was not explicitly warned that
dismissal could result from noncompliance. While this warning
was not expressly necessary, as the issue had been raised by
the Defendants in their briefing, the Court thinks fairness
(and the fact that this case initially survived Judge
Sharp's frivolity review) calls for such an express
warning and the provision of one more opportunity for
Plaintiff to comply with Rule 8.
the Report and Recommendation is ADOPTED IN
PART, as to finding the Complaint wanting under Rule
8. However, rather than outright dismissal, Plaintiff is
ORDERED to, within thirty (30) days, file a
further amended Complaint containing a short and
plain statement of his claims. The statement should
be short because unnecessary prolixity in a pleading places
an unjustified burden on the court and the party who must
respond to it because they are forced to select the relevant
material from a mass of verbiage. Plaintiff should avoid
legal argument, conclusory statements, tangential
discussions, and the provision of unnecessary supporting
evidence. Stated differently, Plaintiff need only allege what
is necessary to put Defendants on notice that they are
entitled to relief on any legally sustainable grounds.
shall answer or otherwise plead in response to any amended
Complaint within the time prescribed by the Federal Rules of
the Court's decision under Rule 8 and the provision for
re-pleading, the Court SETS ASIDE the Report
and Recommendation as to Rule 12.
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 142) is DENIED.
 On January 17, 2017, this matter was
transferred to the docket of the ...