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Russell Fennell v. Tasha Souter; et al

June 27, 2012

RUSSELL FENNELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TASHA SOUTER; ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Howard R. Lloyd United States Magistrate Judge

** E-filed June 27, 2012 **

NOT FOR CITATION

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT [Re: Docket No. 52]

Pro se plaintiff Russell Fennell filed a form complaint against six individuals, presumably all 17 employees of a Veteran's Administration ("VA") inpatient facility, alleging that their decision to 18 terminate him from a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD") treatment program constituted racial 19 discrimination because Fennell is a black man. The complaint identifies defendants Tasha Souter 20 and Noah De Gatano as doctors at the VA (and Dr. Souter as the head of the PTSD program), 21

Margaret Lawrence as the "patient advocate" for the PTSD program, and Kristen Marchak as 22 director of admissions. Defendants Elizabeth Freeman and Robert Jenkins are only mentioned in the 23 complaint where plaintiff names all defendants. Now, the defendants move for a more definite 24 statement under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). Fennell has not filed any opposition to the motion. 25

All of the parties have expressly consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). This motion is deemed suitable for determination without oral argument pursuant to Civil 27 L. R. 7-1(b). Accordingly, the July 17, 2012 hearing is VACATED.

2 statement when faced with a complaint "which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot 3 reasonably prepare a response." Such motions are viewed with disfavor because of the lenient 4 pleading standard of Rule 8(a), which requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim." "[A] 5 court will deny the motion where the complaint is specific enough to apprise the defendant of the 6 substance of the claim being asserted. Beery v. Hitachi Home Elecs. (Am.), 157 F.R.D. 477, 480 7 1976)). Moreover, if the detail sought by a motion for more definite statement is obtainable through 9 the discovery process, the motion should be denied. See Harvey v. City of Oakland, 2007 WL 10

Here, the defendants argue that their motion should be granted because (1) the complaint

fails to comply with Fed. R. Civ. P. 8, requiring a "short and plain statement" of plaintiff's claims 13 against each defendant; (2) the complaint fails to comply with Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b), requiring that 14 complaints be written in numbered paragraphs; and (3) plaintiff has failed to complete service if his 15 claims against defendants in their individual capacities. Fennell has not filed any opposition to the 16 motion. 17

Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the 19 claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Pro se complaints are to be construed liberally. 20

Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987); see also Haddock v. Bd. of Dental Examiners 21 of California, 777 F.2d 462, 464 (9th Cir. 1985) (explaining that pro se civil rights complaints 22 should be liberally construed). However, even a pro se complaint must state the claim(s) asserted 23 against each defendant, as well as allegations of the elements of each of those claims. See, e.g.. 24

Burgess v. Alameda Housing Authority, 98 Fed. Appx. 603, 605 (9th Cir. 2004) (requiring a pro se 25 plaintiff to allege facts in support of each element of her 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim). 26

However, as defendants point out, he does not specify whether he is suing the defendants in their 28 official or individual capacities. In addition, he does not ...


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