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Neuman v. United States

July 31, 2008

JAMES NEUMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

A. Introduction and Background

On March 14, 2007, Plaintiff Neuman filed suit in Illinois state court against a large number of defendants, including the United States of America and several federal employees. Neuman claimed that the federal defendants violated his rights by altering the date on a court order. This Court dismissed all but six of Neuman's original claims for damages against the United States, because Neuman failed to show that the federal government had waived sovereign immunity under the Federal Tort Claims Act and because no independent right of recovery existed under various statutes Neuman relied upon (Doc. 114). The Court also dismissed all claims for damages against Judge McDade, Clerk John Waters, and Clerk Holly Kallister, as they are immune from suit under the circumstances (Doc. 115). Neuman's claims for equitable relief remained pending, as the Government had not moved for dismissal of those claims.

Having received permission from the Court, Neuman filed an amended complaint in the above-captioned action on March 2, 2008 (Doc. 214). Therein, Neuman raises forty claims against approximately thirty defendants employed by the federal government and state of Illinois (Doc. 214). However, the only counts that allege wrongdoing by the United States, the Central District of Illinois, or individuals employed by the Central District of Illinois are Counts 30 through 38.

The federal defendants now move this Court to dismiss these claims (Docs. 215 & 216). For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the motion to dismiss Neuman's claims for equitable relief (Doc. 216), CONSTRUES the motion for summary judgment for failure to exhaust administrative remedies as a motion to dismiss (Doc. 215), and GRANTS that motion to dismiss (Doc. 215).

B. Analysis

1. Pleading Requirements Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8

The United States first asks this Court to dismiss the claims against the federal defendants under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 8(a). Rule 8(a)(2) provides that a pleading stating a claim for relief "must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." In other words, under the lenient notice pleading standard provided in the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, a pleading need only provide fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002).

While the Court agrees that Neuman's complaint is long, verbose, and unnecessarily repetitive, the complaint does succeed in putting the defendants on notice of the claims raised. The Court is also cognizant that Neuman is proceeding pro se, and while this does not excuse him from compliance with the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, the Seventh Circuit has repeatedly noted that "pro se pleadings are to be construed liberally, applying substantially less stringent standards than those applied to pleadings drafted by professional counsel." Kincaid v. Vail,969 F.2d 594, 598 (7th Cir. 1992) (citing Hossman v. Blunk, 784 F.2d 793, 797 (7th Cir. 1986)); see also Estelle v. Gamble,429 U.S. 91, 106 (1976); Anderson v. Hardman, 241 F.3d 544, 545 (7th Cir. 2001).

Under the circumstances, the Court declines to dismiss Neuman's complaint on these grounds. Such a dismissal would only result in starting the case anew. The Court sees no point in further protracting the length of this litigation and delaying resolution of Neuman's claims.

Accordingly, the Court DENIES the Government's motion to dismiss under Rule 8(a) (Doc. 216).

2. Neuman's Claims in Equity

Next, the federal defendants request that the Court dismiss Neuman's claims for equitable or declaratory relief. Before addressing this issue, however, clarification of the pending claims is necessary.

At the outset, there appears to be some confusion as to whom Neuman has properly named as defendants. The Court previously dismissed Neuman's claims for damages, as raised in his first complaint, against Judge Joe McDade, Clerk John Waters, and Clerk Holly Kallister, as each was protected from suit by either absolute or qualified immunity (Doc. 115). However, as defendants never sought ...


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