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Wiederkehr v. Medicredit, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 16, 2019

WYATT WIEDERKEHR, Plaintiff,
v.
MEDICREDIT, INC., Defendant.

          RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          KATHLEEN M. TAFOYA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This case comes before the court on Defendant Medicredit, Inc.'s “Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative for a More Definite Statement” (Doc. No. 8, filed March 8, 2019). Plaintiff did not file a response.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Pro Se Plaintiff

         Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. The court, therefore, “review[s] [her] pleadings and other papers liberally and hold[s] them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys.” Trackwell v. United States, 472 F.3d 1242, 1243 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). See also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (holding allegations of a pro se complaint “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers”). However, a pro se litigant's “conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). A court may not assume that a plaintiff can prove facts that have not been alleged, or that a defendant has violated laws in ways that a plaintiff has not alleged. Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). See also Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (court may not “supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint”); Drake v. City of Fort Collins, 927 F.2d 1156, 1159 (10th Cir. 1991) (the court may not “construct arguments or theories for the plaintiff in the absence of any discussion of those issues”). The plaintiff's pro se status does not entitle him to application of different rules. See Montoya v. Chao, 296 F.3d 952, 957 (10th Cir. 2002).

         B. Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a defendant may move to dismiss a claim for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted.” Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, 1201 (10th Cir. 2003) (quotation marks omitted).

         “A court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint presumes all of plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plausibility, in the context of a motion to dismiss, means that the plaintiff pleaded facts which allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         C. More Definite Statement

         A party may move for a more definite statement of any pleading that is “so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). The Rule further provides that “[t]he motion . . . must point out the defects complained of and the details desired.” Id. Such motions should be granted only when a party is unable to determine the issues requiring a response. Resolution Tr. Corp. v. Thomas, 837 F.Supp. 354, 355 (D. Kan. 1993). However, a party may move for a more definite statement if it “cannot formulate a responsive pleading because the factual allegations are too sparse.” Perington Wholesale, Inc. v. Burger King Corp., 631 F.2d 1369, 1371 (10th Cir. 1979); see also New Home Appliance Ctr., Inc. v. Thompson, 250 F.2d 881, 883 (10th Cir. 1957) (“[i]f a party needs more facts, it has a right to call for them under Rule 12(e) . . . . ”). “A motion for more definite statement should not be granted merely because the pleading lacks detail; rather, the standard to be applied is whether the claims alleged are sufficiently specific to enable a responsive pleading in the form of a denial or admission.” Advantage Homebuilding, LLC v. Assurance Co. of America, No. Civ. A. 03- 2426-KHV, 2004 WL 433914, at * 1 (D. Kan. March 5, 2004). The decision whether to grant or deny such a motion lies within the sound discretion of the court. Graham v. Prudential Home Mortg. Co., Inc., 186 F.R.D. 651, 653 (D. Kan. 1999).

         Rule 12(e) must be read in conjunction with Rule 8, which establishes the general rules or guidelines for pleadings. 5A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1377 at 618 (1990). The twin purposes of a complaint are to give the opposing parties fair notice of the bases for the claims against them so that they may respond and to allow the court to conclude that the allegations, if proven, show that Plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City, Inc. v. Am. Cemetery Ass'n of Kansas, 891 F.2d 1473, 1480 (10th Cir. 1989) (quoting Perington, 631 F.2d at 1371). 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 . . . .” 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.

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff filed his case in Small Claims Court in El Paso County (see Doc. No 2), and Defendant removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (see Doc. No. 1). The entirety of Plaintiff's claim alleges the defendant owes him $7, 500 because of the “Fair Debt Collections Practice[s] Act, Fraud, Extortion, [and] Harsment [sic].” (Doc. No. 2.)

         Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement. While the court agrees that Plaintiff's Complaint does not contain a single fact to support his claims, “[a] 12(b)(6) motion should not be granted unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Sutton v. Utah State School for Deaf and Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th Cir. 1999) (quotation omitted). Because Plaintiff has ...


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