United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
KATHLEEN L. DESOTO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
above-named Defendants move under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(e) for an order requiring pro se Plaintiff
Darlene Maas to provide a more definite statement. For the
reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires a complaint to contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Rule 12(e) provides
that “[a] party may move for a more definite statement
of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but
which is so vague or ambiguous that the part cannot
reasonably prepare a response.” A Rule 12(e) motion
attacks the intelligibility of the complaint rather than the
lack of detail, and should be denied “where the
complaint notifies the defendant of the substance of the
claims asserted.” Alicia Johnson v. City of
Portland, 2019 WL 5406551, *1 (D. Or. Oct. 3, 2019).
proper “test in evaluating a motion under Rule 12(e) is
whether the complaint provides the defendant with a
sufficient basis to frame a responsive pleading.”
Scripps Health v. Vision Software Technologies Inc.,
2010 WL 11508881, *3 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 13, 2010). In light of
“the liberal pleading requirements of Rule 8, motions
for a more definite statement are ‘viewed with disfavor
and are rarely granted.'” Myers v. Howmedical
Osteonics Corp., 2015 WL 1467109, *1 (D. Mont. 2015)
(quoting Sanchez v. City of Fresno, 914 F.Supp.2d
1079, 1122 (E.D. Cal. 2012).
as here, the plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court has an
obligation “to construe the pleadings liberally and to
afford the [plaintiff] the benefit of any doubt.”
Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212 (9th Cir. 2012).
“[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must
be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers.” Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d
886, 889-90 (9thCir. 2008) (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted).
filed this action in state court on June 5, 2019, using a
complaint form provided by the state court. (Doc. 3). The
opening sentence of the Complaint alleges “[t]he
Billings Police Dept. engaged in an extended baseless, biased
course of conduct.” (Doc. 3 at 1). In the section
immediately following, Plaintiff identifies four claims for
relief set forth verbatim as follows:
1. Defamation - responsible for accident when had no
accident, referred to as hit & run driver, trespasser,
well-known signal 27.
2. Repeated failure and refusal to adhere to State of Montana
Law Enforcement Code of the Ethics 23.13.203.
3. Violation of my Montana Constitutional Rights, Sec. 2, #3)
Inalienable Rights, #4) Individual Dignity, #17) Due Process
4. Violation of my U.S. Constitutional Rights, the Bill of
Rights, and Amendment 14.
(Doc. 3 at 1-2). The rest of the Complaint consists of
Plaintiff's request for relief. She seeks
“[r]emoval of all false, defaming, biased, baseless,
discriminatory statements & actions from any & all
Billings Police Dept. records, ” and asks for
“[t]raining & education to the Billings Police
Dept. focused on” several areas including bias, ethics,
and discrimination. (Doc. 3 at 2). Plaintiff requests
compensatory and punitive damages, and wants “[t]hose
responsible for the harassment and criminal mischief to me
and my property be held accountable by the Billings Police
Dept. just as any other county resident would be.”
(Doc. 3 at 4).
thirty days after service of the Complaint, Defendants
removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a) on the ground that Plaintiff's federal
constitutional claim gives this Court federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. 1 at 3). One
week later, on July 25, 2019, Defendants filed the pending
motion for a more definite statement. Defendants argue ...