United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
RODNEY GUILLOTTE, SR. Plaintiff
CITY OF PINEVILLE, ET AL. Defendants RODNEY GUILLOTTE, JR. Plaintiff
CITY OF PINEVILLE, ET AL. Defendants
H.L. PEREZ-MONTES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for More Definite Statement filed in
each of the consolidated lawsuits captioned above. (Docs. 7).
Plaintiffs have not filed oppositions.
motions are substantially identical. Both reference and adopt
Exceptions of Vagueness filed by Defendants in state court
before removal. And both seek amendments to clarify
Plaintiffs' allegations in several respects.
allegations in Plaintiffs' Petitions do not provide
Defendants with enough information about the nature of their
claims to adequately respond. Therefore, Defendants'
motions are granted, and Plaintiffs are ordered to amend
their Petitions as set forth more specifically below.
April 2017, Plaintiffs filed two separate lawsuits in the
Ninth Judicial District Court in Rapides Parish. Plaintiffs
claim they were “unlawfully arrested” and
“beaten” by Defendant Paul Riccardi, an officer
employed by the Pineville Police Department, along with other
officers. Among other claims, Plaintiffs seek damages for
violations of their “Constitutional rights” and
violations of “Louisiana law.” Defendants
removed, asserting jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Defendants then filed the instant Motions for More Definite
Statement, seeking clarification of Plaintiffs' claims.
Law and Analysis
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e), “[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 party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” It is
well settled that, “[g]iven the liberal pleading
standard set forth in Rule 8(a), Rule 12(e) motions are
disfavored” and should be granted sparingly.
Murungi v. Texas Guaranteed, 646 F.Supp.2d 804, 811
(E.D. La. 2009). Rule 8 requires only “a short and
plain statement of the claim to give the defendant fair
notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it
rests.” See Verret v. N. Star Marine, LLC,
CIV.A. 09-3442, 2009 WL 3614502, at *1 (E.D. La. Oct. 28,
12(e) motion may not be used as a substitute for discovery.
See Babcock & Wilcox Co. v. McGriff, Seibels &
Williams, Inc., 235 F.R.D. 632, 633 (E.D. La. 2006).
Nonetheless, a Rule 12(e) motion should be granted
“[i]f a complaint is ambiguous or does not contain
sufficient information to allow a responsive pleading to be
framed.” Beanal v. Freeport-McMoran, Inc., 197
F.3d 161, 164 (5th Cir. 1999).
Rule 12(e), a court may require a plaintiff to clarify
excessive force (or similar) claims against police officers.
In Ekberg v. Pennington, for instance, the plaintiff
filed suit against the City of New Orleans, its police
superintendent, and three police officers, alleging he was
“physically abused and injured by the police
officers” during a traffic stop. No. CIV.A.02-845, 2002
WL 1611641, at *1 (E.D. La. July 19, 2002). Plaintiff also
alleged the city failed to adequately train its police
officers. Id. The defendants removed and filed a
motion to dismiss, or alternatively, a motion for a more
definite statement. Id.
court granted the defendants' Rule 12(e) motion,
reasoning as follows:
Plaintiff alleges only that he is entitled to relief under
§ 1983 because he was physically abused and injured by
defendants Vincent George, Chris McGarity and Saunders Craine
while they arrested him for a traffic violation.
Plaintiff's complaint pleads nothing but conclusions and
provides no guidance to defendants as to how to respond.
Plaintiff fails, for example, to identify any constitutional
right that was violated. He does not state whether he is
suing these defendants in their individual or official
capacities. He does not identify specific actions taken by
any defendant that violate his rights.
Id. at *2. The court then ordered the plaintiff to
identify the constitutional rights violated, the capacity in
which he sued the police officers, and the ways in which each