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Kitterman v. Director

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 3, 2017

SHANE A. KITTERMAN, # B80577, Plaintiff,
DIRECTOR, et al., Defendants.


          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         Now before the Court is a Motion to Reconsider Judgment Dismissing Civil Action (Doc. 32) filed by Plaintiff Shane Kitterman on November 18, 2016. For the reasons set forth herein, the Motion is DENIED.


         Plaintiff filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on January 6, 2016. The Complaint was organized into 11 separate counts against 3 defendants. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff offered few factual allegations in support of his claims in the original Complaint. Id. Instead, he filed a steady stream of proposed amendments to the Complaint during the next six weeks. (Docs. 1-1, 7, 10, 10-1, 11, 12, and 14). In each, he set forth new factual allegations and alternative theories of liability against the defendants. Id.

         On March 4, 2016, the Court dismissed the Complaint for violating Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 17). In the Order Dismissing Complaint, the Court explained that Rule 8 requires a Complaint to set forth “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” and “a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Each allegation must be “simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). The Complaint must “actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a right to relief above a speculative level.” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008). The Court found that Plaintiff's Complaint violated these requirements because it consisted of little more than a list of legal claims and defendants, without basic factual allegations describing the conduct of each defendant that resulted in the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. (Doc. 17, p. 2). The Court did not accept Plaintiff's piecemeal amendments to the Complaint (Docs. 1-1, 7, 10, 10-1, 11, 12, and 14) or construe them together as a unified Complaint. (Doc. 17, pp. 2-5).

         Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint on or before April 8, 2016. (Doc. 17, p. 6). He was instructed to “set forth all of [his] claims against the defendants in a single pleading” and “present each claim in a separate count . . . and specify, by name, each defendant alleged to be liable under the count, as well as the actions that each defendant took in violation of Plaintiff's rights.” Id. Plaintiff was warned that the Court would not accept piecemeal amendments. Id. In addition, the Court specifically advised Plaintiff: “Should Plaintiff fail to file his first amended complaint within the allotted time or consistent with the instructions set forth in this Order, the entire case shall be dismissed with prejudice.” (Doc. 17, p. 6) (emphasis added) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b); Ladien v. Astrachan, 128 F.3d 1051 (7th Cir. 1997); Johnson v. Kamminga, 34 F.3d 466 (7th Cir. 1994); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A)).

         Plaintiff responded by filing 4 amended complaints totaling 324 pages. (Doc. 29, pp. 4-5). Because each new amendment supersedes and replaces all prior amendments, the Court accepted the last version submitted by Plaintiff as the operative pleading. (Doc. 29, p. 5). The 55-page Third Amended Complaint included 39 pages of exhibits. (Doc. 28). Instead of 3 defendants as named in the original Complaint, Plaintiff named 70 defendants in the Third Amended Complaint. Instead of 11 counts as in the original Complaint, he set forth at least 46 counts in the Third Amended Complaint. In addition, Counts 45 and 46 incorporated Plaintiff's entire 30-page Second Amended Complaint by reference and the Second Amended Complaint was submitted as an exhibit to the Third Amended Complaint. Between the two, the statement of claim consisted of 84 pages and encompassed well over 46 claims.[1] Virtually all of Plaintiff's claims arose under state law.

         After reviewing the Third Amended Complaint, the Court concluded that it represented an egregious violation of the Court's Order Dismissing Complaint (Doc. 17) and warranted dismissal of the Third Amended Complaint and the action. (Doc. 29, p. 9). The Court noted that “Plaintiff followed virtually none of the Court's orders for properly amending his pleading. He disregarded the instructions and warnings set forth in the Order Dismissing Complaint”. Id. Dismissal of the Complaint was warranted based on his continued violation of Rule 8. Further, dismissal of the action was warranted because of Plaintiff's failure to comply with the Order Dismissing Complaint. Id. Rather than dismissing the action with prejudice, however, the Court entered an Order Dismissing Case without prejudice on November 7, 2016. (Doc. 29). No “strike” was assessed against Plaintiff under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Id.

         Motion to Reconsider

         Plaintiff filed a Motion to Reconsider Judgment Dismissing Civil Action (Doc. 32) on November 18, 2016. In it, Plaintiff asks the Court to excuse him from the requirements for amending his Complaint that were set forth in the Order Dismissing Case (Doc. 29). Plaintiff insists that he “had no idea that the Court's order was mandatory and that by not using a predetermined form that prevented the Plaintiff from fully describing the events that caused his injury would subject him to the dismissal of his civil action in its entirety.” (Doc. 32, p. 3). He also challenges the Court's conclusion that the Third Amended Complaint violates Rule 8, stating, “This finding . . . could not be further from the truth. . . . The complaint describes actions of more than 70 people over 20 plus years. How much more short and plain can the Plaintiff make his complaint.” Id.


         A motion challenging the merits of a district court order will automatically be considered as having been filed pursuant to either Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See, e.g., Mares v. Busby, 34 F.3d 533, 535 (7th Cir. 1994). Different time-tables and standards govern these motions.

         Rule 59(e) authorizes relief only in “exceptional cases” and permits a court to amend a judgment only if the movant demonstrates a manifest error of law or fact or presents newly discovered evidence that was not previously available. Willis v. Dart, 671 Fed. App'x 376, 377 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Gonzalez-Koeneke v. W., 791 F.3d 801, 807 (7th Cir. 2015); Heyde v. Pittenger, 633 F.3d 512, 521 (7th Cir. 2011)). See also Sigsworth v. City of Aurora, 487 F.3d 506, 511-12 (7th Cir. 2007)). A Rule 59(e) motion must be filed within 28 days of the order being challenged.

         Likewise, relief under Rule 60(b) is “an extraordinary remedy that is to be granted only in exceptional circumstances.” Willis, 671 Fed. App'x at 377 (quoting Provident Sav. Bank v. Popovich, 71 F.3d 696, 698 (7th Cir. 1995); see also N. Cent. Ill. Laborers' Dist. Council v. S.J. Groves & Sons Co., 842 F.2d 164, 168 (7th Cir. 1988) (internal marks omitted) (describing a Rule 60(b) ruling as “discretion piled upon discretion”)). Rule 60(b) permits a court to relieve a party from an order or judgment based on such grounds as mistake, surprise or excusable neglect by the movant; fraud or misconduct by the opposing party; ...

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