Thursday, January 29, 2009


Rule 8(a) and Drafting the Complaint

A student in my Comprehensive Pretrial class provided me with an Order in Presidio Group, LLC, vs. GMAC Mortgage, LLC. Thanks to the student, I’ll be working the Order into our discussion of Drafting Complaints. In the case, the defendants moved for a more definite statement in the Complaint. In his July 27, 2008 Order granting the motion, the Honorable Ronald B. Leighton, United States District Judge, Western District of Washington at Tacoma began with William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2, Line 90: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

The good Judge then went on to point out that “(b)revity is also the soul of a pleading. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). The Federal Rules envision a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” He then went on to describe portions of the 465 page Complaint:

"Not before page 30 does the Complaint address the facts alleged. Plaintiff’s allegations continue for 87 pages – including a 37 page pit-stop to quote e-mails. (Compl., 39-76). The Court notes, with some irony, that in his response opposing Defendants’ motions for a more definite statement, the Plaintiff successfully states his allegations in two pages."

Then, in granting the motion, Judge Leighton added a bit of his own poetry:

Plaintiff has a great deal to say
But it seems he skipped Rule 8(a),
His Complaint is too long,
Which renders it wrong,
Please re-write and re-file today.

View the entire Order.

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