United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS, GRANTING
MOTION FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT, AND VACATING
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Section 1983 action, defendants move to dismiss pursuant to
FRCP 41(b), or in the alternative for a more definite
statement. For the reasons below, the motion to dismiss is
Denied. The motion for a more definite
statement is Granted.
history of this case is recited at length in previous orders
(see Dkt. No. 80), therefore this order repeats only
certain necessary details. In October 2016, Plaintiff Ronald
Mazzaferro filed this action under Section 1983 for violation
of his Fourth Amendment rights. Certain claims and parties
have since been dismissed.
April 2017, two of the remaining parties, Deputy Ken Johnson
and Sergeant Spencer Crum, moved for a more definite
statement. A May 11 order granted their motion. That order
provided that Mazzaferro shall:
provide a more definite statement with respect to the claims
against Deputy Sheriff Johnson and Sergeant Crum. More
specifically, Mazzaferro shall present each claim separately
and in a manner clear enough that Sergeant Crum and Deputy
Sheriff Johnson can understand exactly what claims are being
brought against them. To make a clear record, Mazzaferro
shall provide the more definite statement in the form of an
further explained that “[t]he proposed amended
complaint must be appended to a separate redlined copy
identifying all changes” (Dkt. No. 80).
response to this order, Mazzaferro filed a document entitled
“Plaintiff Ronald Mazzaferro's Court Ordered
Amended Complaint in the Form of a More Definite Statement as
to Defendant Ken Johnson and Defendant Spencer Crum” to
which he appended his second amended complaint (Dkt. No. 84).
The first document (hereinafter “third amended
complaint”) contains factual allegations and legal
claims directed at Deputy Johnson and Sergeant Crum. The
factual allegations are carried over verbatim from the
earlier second amended complaint. The two legal claims,
however, are refashioned and presented in a more easily
understood form. Both allege that Deputy Johnson and Sergeant
Crum violated Section 1983. The first claim is predicated on
violations of Mazzaferro's Fourth Amendment rights, while
the second is predicated on violations of Mazzaferro's
First Amendment rights (id. ¶¶ 15-22).
the third amended complaint omits claims against all
defendants other than Deputy Johnson and Sergeant Crum. It
also omits a statement of jurisdiction and venue.
Johnson and Sergeant Crum now move to dismiss under FRCP
41(b). In the alternative, they move for a more definite
statement. They allege that the third amended complaint fails
to comply with the May 11 order, and is so vague and
ambiguous that they do not know how to respond to it. In
support of these arguments, they contend that they do not
know whether the third amended complaint, or the attached
second amended complaint controls. When read together, they
argue, the documents are confusing.
41(b) provides that a defendant may move to dismiss an action
against it “if the plaintiff fails . . . to comply . .
. with a court order.” FRCP 41(b) dismissal, however,
“is so harsh a remedy that it should be imposed as a
sanction only in extreme circumstances.” Dahl v.