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Ibrahim v. Bernhardt

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 9, 2019

SULEIMAN A. IBRAHIM
v.
DAVID BERNHARDT, SECRETARY U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

         SECTION: “A” (4)

          ORDER

          KAREN WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for More Definite Statement (Rec doc. 26). The motion is not opposed. The motion was heard on the briefs.

         I. Factual Summary

         Suleiman Ibrahim (“Ibrahim” or “Plaintiff”), a former engineer, with the Department of the Interior filed this lawsuit alleging that he was the victim of on-the-job discrimination, while he worked at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”). Ibrahim contends that he was retaliated against for filing an EEOC complaint. The alleged retaliation consisted of a 14-day suspension without pay that occurred on April 22, 2016.

         He generally complains of discrimination based upon his national origin, Sudanese, reprisal which resulted in lower ratings on Employee Performance Appraisal Plan compared to other engineers and religious discrimination because he was denied the ability to take off on Ramadan, a fasting day. He also alleges that he was subjected to harassment and a hostile work environment by his supervisors, and that they falsified and destroyed official government personal records. He doesn't further describe the experiences that result in the harassment and hostile environment.

         The defendant filed the subject motion seeking an order requiring Ibrahim to restate his complaint so that it complies with Rules 12(e) and 8(a). The defendant contends that the form of the complaints along with the administrative record extracts fail to make assertions of fact in a manner such that the Secretary is unable to frame a response.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12(e) provides for a more definite statement when the pleading at issue “is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). “If a pleading fails to specify the plaintiff's allegations in a manner that provides sufficient notice, a defendant can move for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e) before responding.” Jones v. CNT Chartis Ins. Agency, Inc., No. CIV 11-402 BB/GBW, 2011 WL 13291151, at *2 (D.N.M. Aug. 9, 2011), citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002).

         The standard for evaluating a motion for more definite statement is whether the complaint “is so excessively vague and ambiguous as to be unintelligible and as to prejudice the defendant seriously in attempting to answer it.” Advanced Communications Technologies, Inc. v. Li, No. 05 Civ. 4628, 2005 WL 3215222, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 30, 2005) (citing Bower v. Weisman, 639 F.Supp. 532, 538 (S.D.N.Y.1986)).

         When evaluating a motion for more definite statement, the Court must assess the complaint in light of the minimal pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides in pertinent part, “A pleading which sets forth a claim for relief ... shall contain ... a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief ...” Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(f), which should be read in conjunction with Rule 8, states that averments of time and place are material for the purpose of testing the sufficiency of a pleading; specific pleading of these averments, however, is not required.

         The 12(e) motion is disfavored, in that “in view of the great liberality of F.R.Civ. P. 8, permitting notice pleading, it is clearly the policy of the Rules that Rule 12(e) should not be used to frustrate this policy by lightly requiring a plaintiff to amend his complaint which under Rule 8 is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.” Mitchell v. E-Z Way Towers, Inc., 269 F.2d 126, 132 (5th Cir.1959). See generally 5A C. Wright and A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1377 (2nd ed.1990).

         III. Analysis

         The defendant contends that Ibrahim complaints filed on January 7, 2019 do not clearly state claims but does cite to the Civil Rights Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The defendant contends that the complaint is almost entirely devoid of factual allegations, ...


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