United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
LICIA L. HARPER, Plaintiffs,
ASCENSION HEALTH ALLIANCE, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD WEBBER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Ascension Health
Alliance's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for a More Definite Statement  and Plaintiff Licia
L. Harper's Motion for Entry of Default .
December 30, 2016, Plaintiff Licia L. Harper
(“Plaintiff”) filed a “Petition for
Unlawful Discriminatory Practices” in the Circuit Court
of St. Louis County, Missouri, asserting two counts against
Defendant Ascension Health Alliance (“Ascension”)
for retaliatory discrimination because of race and disability
and discriminatory discharge in violation of the Missouri
Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), Mo. Rev. Stat. §
213.010 et seq. On May 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
first amended petition against Ascension. On September 18,
2017, Plaintiff filed, pro se, a second amended
complaint against Ascension, one hundred unknown individuals,
ten unknown corporations, and ten unknown other entities. Her
second amended complaint asserts five counts: (I) breach of
contract; (II) violations of the American with Disabilities
Act (“ADA”); (III) disability discrimination in
violation of the MHRA; (IV) retaliation in violation of the
ADA and MHRA; and (V) wrongful termination in violation of
September 19, 2017, Plaintiff's counsel filed a motion to
withdraw due to Plaintiff filing a pro se complaint.
On September 28, 2017, Ascension removed the matter to this
Court pursuant to federal question jurisdiction. On October
16, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff's counsel's
request to withdraw. Ascension filed the pending motion to
dismiss on November 9, 2017. Plaintiff informed the Court she
intends to proceed pro se on November 16, 2017, at
the same time as filing the pending motion for entry of
default. The Court will first address Plaintiff's motion
for entry of default and then Ascension's motion to
MOTION FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT
asserts two reasons default should be entered against
Ascension. First, Plaintiff argues Ascension is in default,
because it filed its motion to dismiss on November 9, 2017,
and it was due on November 8, 2017. Ascension states it asked
for a two-week extension of time to file its answer, which
would have made its answer due on November 9, 2017, but due
to a mistake in its filing, it asked for it to be due on
November 8, 2017, which the Court granted.
is correct that Ascension filed its response to her petition
one day past the deadline set by the Court. However, filing a
responsive pleading one day late is not cause for entry of
default. Default judgments are not favored by law and are in
the sound discretion of the Court to enter. United States
v. Harre, 983 F.2d 128, 130 (8th Cir. 1993). This was an
inadvertent failure to file within the time set by the Court.
It resulted in no prejudice to Plaintiff. Therefore, the
Court will deny Plaintiff's motion for entry of default.
MOTION TO DISMISS
motion to dismiss, Ascension asks the Court to either dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint or require her to file an amended
complaint because it is “so vague and ambiguous”
Ascension cannot reasonably prepare an answer or a response.
Plaintiff's response to Ascension's motion to dismiss
was simply to reassert her argument Ascension is in default.
Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 8(a) requires a
complaint to contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” FRCP 12(e) allows a party to move for a more
definite statement of a pleading that is “so vague or
ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a
response. “A motion for more definite statement is
proper when a party is unable to determine issues he must
meet . . .” Tinder v. Lewis Cty Nursing Home
Dist., 207 F.Supp.2d 951, 959 (E.D. Mo. 2001). Motions
for a more definite statement are appropriate when a
complaint is unintelligible rather than lacking in detail.
Id. It is not a substitute for discovery.
Id. “[D]ismissal of a plaintiff's
complaint for failure to comply with Rule 8 should be with
leave to amend.” Michaelis v. Nebraska State Bar
Ass'n, 717 F.2d 437, 439 (8th Cir. 1983).
Court will grant Ascension's motion to dismiss and allow
Plaintiff leave to amend her complaint. Plaintiff's
second amended complaint is 58 pages long and includes 360
paragraphs. It includes book quotes and numerous allegations
which have no relevance to the action. The style of this
pleading would make “an orderly trial impossible”
and Ascension cannot be expected to respond to such an
unwieldly complaint. See id., at 439. Further,
Plaintiff's second amended complaint repeatedly uses
“defendants” and does not specify if she is
referring to Ascension or one of the unnamed defendants. This
unfairly burdens Ascension and the Court because it shifts
“the burden of identifying the plaintiff's genuine
claims and determining which of those claims might have legal
support.” Gurman v. Metro Housing &
Redevelopment Auth., 842 F.Supp.2d 1151, 1153 (D. Minn.
2011). “It is the plaintiff's burden under both
Rule 8 and Rule 11, to reasonably investigate their claims,
to research the relevant law, to plead only viable claims,
and to plead those claims concisely and clearly, so that a
defendant can readily respond to them and a court can readily
resolve them.” Id. Therefore, the Court will
grant Ascension's motion and will allow Plaintiff 30 days
from the date of this order to file a third amended complaint
that complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant
Ascension Health Alliance's Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for a More Definite Statement  is
GRANTED. Plaintiff shall file an amended
complaint no later than thirty days from the date of this
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff Licia L.
Harper's Motion for Entry ...