United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. DARRAH United States District Court Judge.
18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a twenty-nine count, ninety-six
page First Amended Verified Complaint , alleging
violations of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, 18 U.S.C.
§ 1831, et seq.; violations of the Illinois
Trade Secrets Act, 765 ILCS § 1065/1, et seq.;
breach of contract; and unfair competition in violation of
the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). Defendants have
filed a Motion to Dismiss  Plaintiff's Complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. For
the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss  is denied without prejudice with leave to
following is a brief summary of a profuse number of facts
alleged in the First Amended Verified Complaint
(“FAC”). JoyAnn Book founded ChatterPlug, Inc.
(“ChatterPlug”), a company that designs and
develops healthcare management technology. (FAC ¶ 30.)
ChatterPlug has designed and developed, through Book,
PatientConnecter™ - Post- Acute Care
(“PatientConnecter™ - PAC”), including the
PatientConnecter™ - PAC Tool and
PatientConnecter™ - PAC Prototype. (Id. at
e.g. ¶¶ 169, 206.) PatientConnecter™
- PAC consists of an “enterprise platform and
tools” available for authorized users. (Id. at
¶¶ 3-5, 8.) The FAC alleges that an enterprise
platform is a platform that can be used at one or more
locations; tools are products, applications, or apps.
Intent (“Digital”) is a consulting firm.
(Id. at ¶ 35.) Kindred Healthcare
(“Kindred”) is a healthcare company that
provides, among other things, rehabilitation and physical
therapy services. (Id. at ¶ 58.) Toward the end
of 2014 or in early 2015, Kindred hired Digital Intent to
assist Kindred in improving patients' rehabilitation
experiences with technology. (Id. at ¶¶
124, 168.) The FAC does not allege that Kindred entered into
any contract for services or any confidentiality agreements
with ChatterPlug or Book.
November 2014, ChatterPlug and Digital Intent entered into a
Mutual Confidentiality Agreement (“MCA”).
(Id. ¶ 13). In December 2014, Book began
working at Digital Intent, as an
“Entrepreneur-In-Residence, ” to help with the
project for which Kindred hired Digital Intent. (Id.
¶¶ 124, 132, 133, 158-60.) ChatterPlug alleges that
in February and March 2015, it disclosed confidential
information, through Book, to Digital Intent and Kindred,
including preliminary portions and elements of the
PatientConnecter™ - PAC Tool and
PatientConnecter™ - PAC Prototype. (Id.
¶¶ 174-180, 185, 211, 217-18, 236-41.) After Book
made these disclosures, ChatterPlug alleges that Digital
Intent terminated Book. (Id. ¶ 254.)
November 2015, Kindred held its annual Kindred Clinical
Impact Symposium. (Id. ¶ 356.) During the
symposium, Kindred discussed a rehabilitation patient
experience “app, ” identified as “Maxwell,
” that it was developing with Digital Intent, including
showing a photo or screen shot of a user-interface screen.
(Id. ¶ 359, Ex. K.) The screen shot was also
viewable to the public on Kindred's website.
(Id. Ex. K.)
18, 2016, Plaintiff filed the FAC, asserting twenty-nine
counts against Defendants. (Dkt. No. 32.) At issue in this
litigation are trade secrets relating to ChatterPlug's
(1) PatientConnecter™ - PAC Tool and (2)
PatientConnecter™ - PAC Prototype (“Trade
Secrets”). (FAC at ¶ 226.) ChatterPlug alleges
that Digital Intent and Kindred misappropriated the Trade
Secrets to create Maxwell, in violation of state and federal
statutes, breached contracts and violated the Lanham Act.
(Id. at ¶¶ 344-557.) The following chart
sets forth the twenty-nine claims alleged against Digital
Intent and Kindred; Defendants seek dismissal of all counts
in the FAC, except Count 25:
Cause of Action
Violations of the Illinois Trade Secrets Act
1, 5, 7, 11
Violations of the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act
2, 6, 8, 12
Breach of Contract
13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26
Breach of Oral Contract
14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24
Violations of the Lanham Act Unfair Competition
Rule of Civil Procedure 8 compels litigants to file a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” This requirement of
brevity fosters two goals: it allows trial courts to
speed a case to resolution, and it allows a defendant to
capably respond to the allegations in the complaint.
Hardy v. Illinois Dep't of Corrections, Case No.
3:15-cv-00437-JPG, 2015 WL 4573302, at *1 (S.D. Ill. July 29,
2015) (citing United States ex rel. Garst v.
Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir.
2003). While a minor amount of surplus material in a
complaint is not enough to frustrate these goals and violate
Rule 8, unnecessary length coupled with repetitiveness,
needless complexity, and immaterial allegations can push a
complaint past Rule 8's breaking point - in other words,
it can make a “complaint unintelligible” by
“scattering and concealing in a morass of irrelevancies
the few allegations that matter.” Id. (citing
Kadamovas v. Stevens, 706 F.3d 843, 844 (7th Cir.
2013)). When faced with that type of pleading, district
judges have the power to dismiss the complaint and require a
in this case is ninety-six pages in length (without
exhibits); the Factual Background section is almost
three-hundred paragraphs and nearly forty pages; the
“Prayer for Relief, ” alone, is almost eight
pages. The FAC is verbose and full of circular and repetitive
allegations, making the FAC difficult to navigate. By way of
example, the First Claim for Relief (Trade Secret
Misappropriation by Digital Intent under the Illinois Trade
Secrets Act) incorporates not only the prior paragraphs 1-343
of the FAC, but it also incorporates thirteen claims that
later follow it (claims Twelve through Twenty-Four contained
in paragraphs 435-472 of the Complaint). While the
three-hundred paragraphs of “facts” are detailed,
the five-hundred-fifty-seven paragraphs spread out in over
ninety pages and an eight-page “Prayer for
Relief” lose their purpose. ChatterPlug may argue that
its FAC is bulky because it asserts twenty-nine claims. In
evaluating the FAC, however, the FAC has the kind of length,
repetition and discussion of irrelevant material that makes
the pleading confusing and unintelligible in violation of
circuits have found that this type of complaint violates Rule
8. Lindell v. Houser, 442 F.3d 1033, 1034 n.1 (7th
Cir. 2006) (“[Plaintiff's] complaint was probably
dismissable for not being ‘simple, concise and
direct' (see Rule 8(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure). District courts should not have to read and
decipher tomes disguised as pleadings.”);
Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d at 378 (“Rule
8(a) requires parties to make their pleadings
straightforward, so that judges and adverse parties need not
try to fish a gold coin from a bucket of mud.”);
Harrison v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. Sys. of Georgia,
519 Fed. App'x. 641, 643 (11th Cir. 2013) (eighty-two
page complaint that took a “shotgun” approach to
asserting claims violated Rule 8); Rueb v. Zavaras,
371 Fed. App'x. 982, 986 (10th Cir. 2010) (ninety-five
page complaint that discussed claims linked to other
individuals and often “failed to mention a ...