United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER.
G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant United States
Government's Motion to Strike Filings or, in the
Alternative, for an Extension of Time. ECF No. 51. In its
motion, Defendant argues that Plaintiff Terry Lee Hinds'
June 14 Filings (ECF Nos. 44 and 45), if construed as an
amended complaint, should be stricken for failure to comply
with Rule 8. In the alternative, if the Court were to
construe the June 14 Filings as an amended complaint,
Defendant requests 60 days to file responsive pleadings.
Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF No. 54-1. The Court will
deny in part and grant in part Defendant's motion.
purpose of Rule 8 is simply to give the opposing party fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds of the claim and a
general indication of the type of litigation involved. Courts
generally prefer to decide claims on their merits instead of
on their pleadings. Wisdom v. First Midwest Bank, of
Poplar Bluff, 167 F.3d 402, 409 (8th Cir. 1999).
Therefore, a document filed pro se is to be liberally
construed by the Court and held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). District courts may
construe filings beyond their description in the captions in
order to avoid an unnecessary dismissal, to avoid
inappropriately stringent application of formal labeling
requirements, or to create a better correspondence between
the substance of a pro se filing and its underlying legal
basis. See Castro v. United States, 540 U.S. 375,
381-82 (2003) (internal citations omitted).
argues that Rule 8 does not authorize the Court to construe
the June 14 Filings as an amended complaint. However,
“captions do not control” a filing if the body of
that filing presents a claim. See Estate of Snyder v.
Julian, 789 F.3d 883, 886 (8th Cir. 2015). Upon review
and liberal construction of the June 14 Filings, the Court
construes Plaintiff's Hybrid Pleading Making a
Conscientious Effort to Comply with Court's Orders
Manifesting an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 44), and the
attachments thereto, as an amended complaint. Although
Plaintiff's Hybrid Pleading does not comply with the
Court's orders to file a short, plain statement, the
Court finds that Plaintiff has sufficiently pled violations
of his First Amendment rights to put Defendant on notice of
his claims and allow Defendant to file a responsive
the Court notes that Plaintiff's originally-filed
complaint, brief in support, and exhibit list (ECF Nos. 1-3)
have been stricken by the Court. ECF No. 8. As a result,
Plaintiff cannot incorporate those filings into his amended
complaint. Therefore, to the extent the amended complaint
references Plaintiff's previously-filed complaint, brief
and support, and exhibits, those provisions will be stricken.
Court next turns to Defendant's request for an extension.
Given the length, complexity, and difficult nature of the
claims asserted by Plaintiff, the Court will grant
Defendant's request for a 60-day extension to file a
responsive pleading. Such an extension will not unfairly
prejudice Plaintiff, nor is there evidence that the extension
was requested in bad faith. Furthermore, this is
Defendant's first request for an extension in this
matter, and Plaintiff has been given several extensions by
the Court to file his amended complaint.
final matter, Plaintiff, in his Motion to Review, Alter,
Amend or Vacate Orders (ECF No. 38), sought relief from the
Court's previous orders requiring him to file an amended
complaint (ECF Nos. 8, 18, and 29). The Court has interpreted
ECF No. 44 as an amended complaint. Therefore, the relief
sought in Plaintiff's Motion to Review, Alter, Amend or
Vacate Orders will be denied as moot.
Court has also reviewed Plaintiff's requests to change
the “Cause” on the Court's docket sheet
because “42:1981 Civil Rights” is an inaccurate
representation of his case. The Court will order the clerk of
the court to update the “Cause” to reflect that
this matter asserts violations of Plaintiff's
constitutional (i.e. civil) rights, which may be brought
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff's objections to the “Nature of Suit,
” the Court finds that “440 Civil Rights:
Other” most accurately represents the claims brought by
Plaintiff. However, the Court will instruct the Clerk of the
Court to mail to Plaintiff documents listing the
“Nature of Suit” codes and their descriptions. If
Plaintiff wishes to assign a different code to his case, he
may file such a request, including the proper code, with the
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's
Hybrid Pleading Making a Conscientious Effort to Comply with
Court's Orders Manifesting an Amended Complaint (ECF No.
44) is construed as an amended complaint.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant United States
Government's Motion to Strike Filings or, in the
Alternative, for an Extension of time (ECF No. 51) is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
PART. Defendant is ordered to file a responsive
pleading within sixty (60) days of
IS FURTHER ORDERED that “Plaintiff's First
Motion to Review, Alter, Amend, or Vacate Orders Pursuant to
Plaintiff's Free Exercise of Pure Speech of Religious
Beliefs and/or, in the Alternative, For Relief from Orders
Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 60(b)(6)” (ECF No. 38) is
DENIED as moot.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court will
change the “Cause” listed on the docket sheet to
reflect that the matter is brought pursuant to § 1983.
IS FINALLY ORDERED that the Clerk of Court will mail
a blank civil cover sheet and civil nature of suit ...