United States District Court, D. Colorado
April 23, 2014
MATTHEW A. SMITH, Plaintiff,
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, Defendant.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
LEWIS T. BABCOCK, Senior District Judge.
Plaintiff, Matthew A. Smith, initiated this action by filing pro se a Complaint (ECF No. 1). On March 18, 2014, Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer ordered Mr. Smith to file an amended complaint that complies with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because Mr. Smith failed to provide a short and plain statement of the grounds for the Court's jurisdiction and failed to provide a short and plain statement of his claims showing he is entitled to relief. On March 28, 2014, Mr. Smith filed an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 5).
The Court must construe the Amended Complaint liberally because Mr. Smith is not represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Therefore, the Amended Complaint is held to standards less stringent than those governing a formal pleading drafted by lawyers. See id. However, the Court should not be an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. For the reasons discussed below, the action will be dismissed.
The Court has reviewed the Amended Complaint and finds that the Amended Complaint also fails to comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As Mr. Smith was advised, the twin purposes of a pleading are to give the opposing parties fair notice of the basis for the claims against them so that they may respond and to allow the Court to conclude that the allegations, if proven, show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City, Inc. v. American Cemetery Ass'n of Kansas, 891 F.2d 1473, 1480 (10th Cir. 1989); see also Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007) (stating that a complaint "must explain what each defendant did to him or her; when the defendant did it; how the defendant's action harmed him or her; and, what specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated.").
The requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 are designed to meet these purposes. See TV Communications Network, Inc. v. ESPN, Inc., 767 F.Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991), aff'd, 964 F.2d 1022 (10th Cir. 1992). Specifically, Rule 8(a) provides that a complaint "must contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, ... (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought." Furthermore, the philosophy of Rule 8(a) is reinforced by Rule 8(d)(1), which provides that "[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct." Taken together, Rules 8(a) and (d)(1) underscore the emphasis placed on clarity and brevity by the federal pleading rules. As a result, prolix, vague, or unintelligible pleadings violate the requirements of Rule 8.
Although not entirely clear, Mr. Smith apparently maintains that he was employed by Defendant and that his employment was wrongfully terminated. However, Mr. Smith still fails to provide a short and plain statement of the grounds for the Court's jurisdiction and fails to provide a short and plain statement of his claims showing he is entitled to relief. He does not identify the statutory authority that allows the Court to consider his claims; fails to identify the specific claims he is asserting; and fails to allege specific facts in support of whatever claims he is asserting.
The general rule that pro se pleadings must be construed liberally has limits and "the court cannot take on the responsibility of serving as the litigant's attorney in constructing arguments and searching the record." Garrett v. Selby Connor Maddux & Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840 (10th Cir. 2005); see also Ketchum v. Cruz, 775 F.Supp. 1399, 1403 (D. Colo. 1991) (vague and conclusory allegations that his rights have been violated does not entitle a pro se pleader to a day in court regardless of how liberally the pleadings are construed), aff'd, 961 F.2d 916 (10th Cir. 1992). "[I]n analyzing the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint, the court need accept as true only the plaintiff's well-pleaded factual contentions, not his conclusory allegations." Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. Because Mr. Smith fails to identify the statutory authority for his claims and he fails to provide specific factual allegations in support of whatever claims he is asserting, the action will be dismissed for failure to file an amended pleading that complies with Rule 8 as directed.
Finally, the Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status will be denied for the purpose of appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438 (1962). If Plaintiff files a notice of appeal he also must pay the full $505 appellate filing fee or file a motion to proceed in forma pauperis in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit within thirty days in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 24. Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that the Complaint, the Amended Complaint, and the action are dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because Plaintiff has failed to file a pleading that complies with the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal is denied without prejudice to the filing of a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion for Change of Venue (ECF No. 6) is DENIED as moot.