United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT,
DENYING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT, AND RE-NOTING MOTION FOR
Theresa L. Fricke United States Magistrate Judge
the Court are defendants' cross-motion for more definite
statement (Dkt. 19), plaintiff's cross-motion for more
definite statement (Dkt. 21), and plaintiff's second
motion for default judgment (Dkts. 40 and 41). Also, the
Court has received the plaintiff's Proposed Amended
Complaint (Dkt. 13), and Proposed Second Amended Civil Rights
Complaint (Dkt. 16). For the reasons stated herein,
defendants' motion for more definite statement is granted
and the remaining motions are denied. In addition,
plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction shall be
re-noted for consideration after plaintiff has set forth his
claims consistent with this Order.
31, 2017, Plaintiff Robert Dean Griffin filed a complaint
naming nine defendants and a Jane Doe. Dkt. 2. Mr. Griffin
alleged that Donald R. Dean, Kellie A. Delp, Nancy R.
Fernelius, Sarah P. Gedney, Dr. Steven Hammond, Robert
Herzog, Ron A. Mortensen, Gail Robbins, and Dan White
violated his civil rights when they allegedly denied him
adequate medical care for a spider bite and MRSA infection.
Id. Defendants Dean, Herzog, Mortensen, and White
have since waived service and have entered appearances in the
case. Dkts. 8-12.
30, 2017, Mr. Griffin filed a proposed amended complaint
alleging Eighth Amendment violations concerning meals,
hygiene products, and exercise. Dkt. 13. He did not submit a
motion for a court order allowing him to amend. In this
amended complaint, Mr. Griffin's claims are difficult to
understand. He names only three of the original defendants
(Robert Herzog, Donald R. Holbrook and Scott Buttice) and
does not identify whether he intends to include as defendants
any of the other eight defendants from the original Complaint
(Dkt. 3) in this lawsuit. Although the original defendants
are mentioned within the body of his amended complaint, it is
unclear whether Mr. Griffin intends to maintain his claims
against them or is simply including material related to the
(apparently) dropped defendants for the sole purpose of
substantiating and explaining his claims against the new
Griffin's first proposed amended complaint (Dkt. 13) also
appears to allege claims against two people who have not been
named in either complaint, PA-C Jo Phillips and RN2
Alejandrow. Dkt. 13, pp. 9-10. It is unclear whether Mr.
Griffin intended to name Phillips and Alejandrow as
defendants or whether he is mentioning these individuals
solely to support his allegations against Defendants Herzog,
Holbrook, and Buttice.
6, 2017, Mr. Griffin filed a “Second Amended Civil
Rights Complaint” (Dkt. 16), which seems to allege
claims related to concerns that he is being deprived of
reasonable access to the courts. Defendants opposed the
amendments (Dkt. 14, 19, 23), because Mr. Griffin did not
make a motion requesting that the Court allow an amendment,
his Complaints are difficult to comprehend, and it is unclear
whether this second proposed amended complaint (Dkt.16) was
meant to replace Mr. Griffin's prior complaints or if he
intended all three of the potential complaints to be
Filing of Multiple Complaints - Motion for More Definite
motion for more definite statement may be filed when “a
pleading . . . 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 allegations in a
manner that provides sufficient notice, a defendant can move
for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e) before
responding.” Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534
U.S. 506, 514 (2002). Defendants are required to “point
out the defects complained of and the details desired.”
Griffin's original complaint named nine defendants and
alleged deliberate indifference to a spider bite and MRSA
infection. (Dkt. 3). Mr. Griffin's first proposed amended
complaint named three defendants and alleged Eighth Amendment
violations concerning meals, hygiene products, and exercise.
(Dkt. 13). Mr. Griffin's most recent proposed amendment
appears to relate exclusively to legal access, and contains
allegations against defendants not previously named. (Dkt.
amended pleading operates as a complete substitute for the
previously filed complaint. See Ferdik v. Bonzelet,
963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). In addition,
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 requires Mr. Griffin to include short and
plain statements showing how he is entitled to relief.
However, his multiple complaints share no common thread and
relate to distinct events at different institutions giving
rise to unrelated legal claims. There can only be one
operative complaint in this matter and defendants must be
able to form and articulate their defenses and to admit or
deny plaintiff's allegations. In addition, this Court
must be able to discern which claims are being pursued and
which defendants are to be served. Thus, the defendants
request for a more definite statement of Mr. Griffin's
claims is justified.
Motions for Default Judgment
Griffin was previously advised that a motion for default is
premature. See Dkt. 38. According to the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, if a motion is filed under Rule 12,
the deadline for a responsive pleading changes according to a
court's disposition of the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(1).