United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert U.S. District Judge.
Admassu Regassa, presently incarcerated at the United States
Penitentiary in Petersburg, Virginia, brings this pro
se action for deprivations of his constitutional rights
by persons acting under the color of federal authority
pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of the Bureau of
Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Plaintiff also
references the Federal Torts Claims Act, 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1346, 2671-2680 and tort law. Plaintiff's
claims pertain to his prior incarceration at the United
States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois
original 87-page Complaint, which included 214 pages of
exhibits and directed claims against 116 defendants at three
different institutions, did not survive preliminary review.
(Doc. 14). Thereafter, Plaintiff timely filed a First Amended
Complaint. (Docs. 16 and 16-1). Although the amended pleading
appears to limit Plaintiff's claims to a single
institution (USP-Marion), the 91-page complaint,
which includes 428 pages of exhibits and directs claims
against 88 defendants, suffers from the same deficiencies as
the original Complaint.
case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion
of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks
for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true,
see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir.
2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or
implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a
plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574,
581 (7th Cir. 2009). In addition, the factual allegations in
the complaint must be sufficient to raise the possibility of
relief above the “speculative level.”
E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d
773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or a ‘formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.' ”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). See also Brooks v.
Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009) (courts
“should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of
the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal
order to state a claim, a complaint must also comply with
Rule 8 by providing “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Moreover, “[e]ach allegation must
be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1).
The primary purpose of these pleading requirements is to give
defendants fair notice of the claims against them and the
grounds supporting the claims. Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank
Nev., N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). See also United
States ex rel. Garst v. Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d
374, 378 (7th Cir. 2003) (“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.”).
length alone ordinarily does not justify the dismissal of an
otherwise valid complaint.” Standard v.
Nygren, 658 F.3d 792, 797 (7th Cir. 2011). However,
“[l]ength may make a complaint unintelligible[ ] by
scattering and concealing in a morass of irrelevancies the
few allegations that matter.” United States ex rel.
Garst v. Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th
Cir. 2003). “Again, the issue is notice; where the lack
of organization and basic coherence renders a complaint too
confusing to determine the facts that constitute the alleged
wrongful conduct, dismissal is an appropriate remedy.”
Standard, 658 F.3d at 798. For example, in
Garst, the Seventh Circuit “affirmed the
dismissal of a 155-page, 400-paragraph complaint that would
have forced the defendants to spend countless hours
‘fishing' for the few relevant allegations.”
Id. citing Garst, 328 F.3d at 378. Thus, a
complaint is appropriately dismissed if it presents a
“vague, confusing, and conclusory articulation of the
factual and legal basis for the claim and take[s] a general
‘kitchen sink' approach to pleading the case. Such
complaints frustrate Rule 8's objective: ‘framing
the issues and providing the basis for informed pretrial
proceedings.' ” Cincinnate Life Ins. Co. v.
Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 946-47 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Stanard, 658 F.3d at 797-98) (internal brackets
omitted). See also Kadamovas v. Stevens, 706 F.3d
843, 844 (7th Cir. 2013) (“District judges
are busy, and therefore have a right to dismiss a complaint
that is so long that it imposes an undue burden on the judge,
to the prejudice of other litigants seeking the judge's
dismissing Plaintiff's original Complaint, the Court
explained why Plaintiff's claims failed to meet basic
The allegations in the Complaint refer to a broad range of
claims with little or no elaboration. Often, the allegations
are little more than conclusory legal statements and vague
references to constitutional violations. In most instances,
Plaintiff generally claims that large groups of individuals
are subject to liability for violating his rights, but fails
to describe how each individual was personally involved in
the alleged violation. This style of pleading violates Rule
8. See Vicom, Inc. v. Harbridge Merch. Serv., Inc.,
20 F.3d 771, 775-76 (7th Cir.1994) (quoting Wade v.
Hopper, 993 F.2d 1246, 1249 (7th Cir.) (citations
omitted), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 868 (1993))
(“Under Rule 8, a complaint ‘must be presented
with intelligibility sufficient for a court or opposing party
to understand whether a valid claim is alleged and if so what
it is.' ”). Moreover, even when specific conduct is
associated with specific individuals, the allegations fall
short of stating a constitutional violation.
The Complaint is also problematic under Rule 8 for its length
(87 typewritten pages and 214 pages of exhibits) and
impractical number of defendants (116). Here, the length of
the Complaint is problematic because the few potentially
viable allegations are scattered and concealed in “a
morass of irrelevancies, ” making the Complaint
unintelligible. See United States ex rel. Garst v.
Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir.
Given the above pleading deficiencies, the Court cannot
discern what claims are being asserted as to each of the 116
(Doc. 14, p. 9).