The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS BY DEFENDANTS HOLZ, DEMERLY,
HAAS AND METROFI
Now before the Court are motions to dismiss brought by
defendants Otto Holz, Paul Demerly, Chuck Haas and MetroFi, Inc.
All defendants seek dismissal of plaintiffs' Third Amended
Complaint, without leave to amend. Pursuant to Local Rule 7-1(b),
the Court finds the motions suitable for resolution without oral
argument and therefore VACATES the hearing set for November 4,
2005. For the reasons set out below, the Court GRANTS defendants'
On August 12, 2004, plaintiffs*fn1 filed this action
against ten named defendants and an unknown number of "Doe"
defendants. The original complaint was 88 pages long, and
consisted of 500 paragraphs of allegations in support of its
eighteen causes of action. By order dated January 26, 2005, the
complaint was dismissed with leave to amend on the grounds, inter alia, that it violated Rule
8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn2 Plaintiffs'
First Amended Complaint was filed on February 11, 2005 and their
Second Amended Complaint was filed July 15, 2005. On August 12,
2005, plaintiffs filed their Third Amended Complaint, which is
the subject of the current motion.
The Third Amended Complaint names twenty-three defendants. It
is 81 pages long and contains 409 paragraphs of allegations in
support of twenty-one causes of action. It alleges forty-six
separate RICO conspiracies involving the worldwide
telecommunications industry. Its conspiracy allegations span the
entire globe, and include, among numerous others, allegations
involving "the manufacture of a cutting-edge technology Trimaran
boats [sic]," the "plunder" of the Philippine treasury by former
president Ferdinand Marcos, and "marriage fraud" committed by
Currier's ex-wife. See Pl. Compl. at ¶¶ 87, 74, 73. In addition
to the twenty-three named defendants, plaintiffs have named
sixteen "relevantnon-parties," all of whom are former defendants
to the action. In a representative example of the sheer magnitude
of plaintiffs' claims, plaintiffs request permission to sue on
behalf of the people of the United States, because "the Attorney
General clearly will not do so." Pl. Compl. at ¶ 13.
The complaint is long, rambling, and extraordinarily difficult
to follow. The gist of the complaint appears to be that, in 1995,
Currier developed a method of wireless internet voice
communications that would have been faster and less expensive
than what was then available. Pl. Compl. at ¶ 66-69. Currier
believed this new invention had the potential to provide
affordable wireless internet and telephone products to the entire
world, including to remote areas of developing nations. Id. In
1999, he founded corporate plaintiff Communication Bridge Global,
Inc. ("CBG"), conceivably to carry out his plan, although the
complaint does not make this clear. Id. at ¶ 70-71. Currier's other company, Communication
Bridge USA, Inc. ("CBUSA"), was later formed as a subsidiary of
CBG. Id. The complaint then describes a vast network of
conspiracies involving the Philippine government, Currier's
ex-wife, and the entire telecommunications industry, the goal of
which was to prevent Currier's idea from coming to fruition, to
destroy his companies, and to steal his intellectual property.
Four of the defendants have now brought motions to dismiss the
Third Amended Complaint. They all contend that the complaint's
lengthy and rambling allegations fail to comply with the minimal
pleading standards established by the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Court agrees.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint
contain "(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds upon
which the court's jurisdiction depends . . ., (2) a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, and (3) a demand for judgment for the relief the
pleader seeks." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Under Rule 8(e), "each
averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct." The
purpose of these requirements is to "give the defendant fair
notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47,
78 S. Ct. 99, 103 (1957). In practical terms, the requirements of Rule 8
ensure that a defendant will be able to respond to the
allegations against him. Edwards v. N. Am. Rockwell Corp.,
291 F. Supp. 199, 211 (C.D. Cal. 1968) ("Rule 8(a)(2) envisions the
presentation of factual allegations of sufficient clarity and
certainty to enable defendants to determine the basis of
plaintiff's claim and to formulate a responsive pleading."). They
also help frame the lawsuit to guide case management and
discovery. McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir.
The Court finds that plaintiffs' complaint is not well-pled.
Its convoluted allegations against a litany of defendants and
"relevant non-parties," which span 81 pages and 409 paragraphs,
are simply too confusing to give the defendants fair notice of
the claims against them. Although the complaint provides a fair
amount of detail concerning the telecommunications industry, the
failure of the federal government to protect consumers from
monopolies, and other "background" facts, the complaint fails to
provide any detail when it discusses the actual wrongs the named defendants allegedly committed. Instead,
it resorts to sweeping, conclusory allegations of vast
conspiracies. In short, the Ninth Circuit's description of a
complaint in a similar case applies fully here: "Despite all the
pages, requiring a great deal of time for perusal, one cannot
determine from the complaint who is being sued, for what relief,
and on what theory, with enough detail to guide discovery."
McHenry, 84 F.3d at 1178.
Plaintiffs concede that the complaint is lengthy, but argue
that the length is necessary because the factual background of
this case is complicated. In defense of their complaint,
plaintiffs cite to Washington v. Baenziger, 673 F. Supp. 1478
(N.D. Cal. 1987), and Velasquez v. Senko, 643 F. Supp. 1172
(N.D. Cal. 1986). Neither of these cases can save the current
Washington involved a professional baseball player who sued
his investment advisor for fraud, negligence, and breach of
fiduciary duty, among other claims. His original complaint was 86
pages long, contained 33 causes of action against 21 defendants,
and attached fifteen pages of exhibits. See Washington v.
Baenziger, 656 F. Supp. 1176, 1177 (N.D. Cal. 1987). After this
complaint was dismissed under Rule 8(a), the plaintiff filed an
amended complaint. In the amended complaint, the plaintiff
"divided the defendants into relevant groups and specified the
causes of action against each group. He also added dates to the
allegations of fraud, and provided greater specificity to the
alleged fraudulent acts of each defendant or group of
defendants." Washington, 673 F. Supp. at 1482. Based upon these
changes, the court held that the complaint complied not only with
Rule 8(a), but also with the heightened pleading requirement of
Rule 9(b). Id.
Unlike in Washington, plaintiffs here have not taken steps to
clarify the allegations in their complaint. They have not
"divided the defendants into relevant groups," nor have they
"provided greater specificity to the alleged fraudulent acts."
Rather, plaintiffs have continued to indiscriminately bring vague
and conclusory allegations against the defendants as a single
Plaintiffs also cite Velasquez v. Senko, 643 F. Supp. 1172
(N.D. Cal. 1986), for the proposition that a complaint may
include a great amount of detail and still be in compliance with
Rule 8. Velasquez concerned a civil rights lawsuit against the
Immigration and Naturalization Service, Border Patrol, and local
police. Id. at 1174. The court rejected a motion to dismiss
under Rule 8(a), finding that "the instant Complaint in no way compares to . . . amorphous pleadings; it describes in
considerable detail seven separate operations of the INS and
Border Patrol that were ...