United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
May 4, 2005.
FLOYD NUNN, et al., Plaintiffs,
JOHN SULLIVAN, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON SHADUR, Senior District Judge
Dan Sullivan ("Sullivan") has just filed a self-prepared Answer
to the Complaint brought against him and other codefendants by
Floyd and Nellie Nunn (collectively "Nunns"). This Court sua
sponte strikes Sullivan's Answer because of its noncompliance
with some fundamental rules of federal pleading.
To begin with, although nonlawyer Sullivan is obviously unaware
of this requirement, this District Court's LR 10.1 sets out this
requirement for any responsive pleading:
Responsive pleadings shall be made in numbered
paragraphs each corresponding to and stating a
concise summary of the paragraph to which it is
Most frequently a defendant will comply with that requirement by
repeating each paragraph of a complaint verbatim, followed by
defendant's answer to that paragraph (a procedure that enables
opposing counsel and the Court to see just what is and what is
not being placed in issue, without having to flip back and forth
between two documents). Sullivan is expected to comply with that
requirement when he provides his proper Amended Answer. Most significantly, by far the major part of Nunns' allegations
are not responded to by Sullivan at all, in direct violation of
the first sentence of Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 8(b), on the
premise that those allegations are assertedly "beyond the scope
of his personal knowledge" (see Answer ¶¶ 1, 2, 4-7, 10-19,
24-43, 47-49, 51, 52, 55, 58, 61, 63, 66, 68, 71-76, 78-85, 90,
101 and 103). If and to the extent that Sullivan may believe that
he is entitled to the benefit of a deemed denial as to any of
Nunns' allegations, he is reminded that any possible use of the
disclaimer contained in the second sentence of Rule 8(b) for that
purpose (see App. ¶ 1 to State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v.
Riley, 199 F.R.D. 276, 278 (N.D. Ill. 2001)) is subject to the
requirement of Rule 11(b) that all written filings by any
litigant or lawyer must satisfy an objective (as well as a
subjective) good faith standard.
There are some other problems with Sullivan's Answer that also
require correction. Here they are:
1. Answer ¶¶ 8 and 9 improperly refrain from
responding to the Nunns' corresponding allegations
"because it is a matter of Law." That too is wrong
see App. ¶ 2 to State Farm. Hence those paragraphs
must also be properly answered in the Amended
2. Next Sullivan fails to answer Complaint ¶ 62 on
the premise that the allegations there "do not affect
him." That too is not a basis for failing to comply with
the first sentence of Rule 8(b), and Complaint ¶ 62
must also be answered.
3. Finally, Sullivan has twice inserted a demand for
"specific proof" (Answer ¶¶ 67 and 101). Like demands
for "strict proof" (again see App. ¶ 1 to State
Farm), that adds nothing to a defendant's responses.
It should be omitted the next time around.
In summary, the Answer is stricken in its entirety. Sullivan is
granted until May 16, 2005 to file a self-contained Amended
Answer in compliance with the terms of this memorandum order in
this Court's chambers (with a copy contemporaneously being
transmitted to Nunns' counsel), failing which all allegations of
the Complaint will be deemed to have been admitted by Sullivan.
© 1992-2005 VersusLaw Inc.