Rarely granted is the Motion for More Definite Statement under Federal Rule 8(a), which requires complaints to contain "a short and plain statement of the claim" being made. But now we know it is appropriate at least where a plaintiff has used more than 450 pages to assert 54 separate claims.
The title alone was eight pages long.
Judge Ronald Leighton of the Western District of Washington is the hero of this story. "The Court," he wrote, "recognizes the tension between Rule 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement," and Rule 9(b), which requires the party [to] state his [fraud] claim with particularity. The issue before the Court is whether Plaintiff’s 465 page complaint correctly balances this tension." He found it did not.
In addition to the eight-page title, the complaint spent 18 pages listing the defendants, which the court noted was somewhat repetitive given that there were only six defendants. The facts were finally reached at page 30, followed by 87 pages of general allegations, "including a 37 page pit-stop to quote emails." The balance of the complaint (341 pages) was an "odyssey" through all of plaintiff’s claims for relief.
The judge only needed 3 pages for his order, which concluded this way:
Plaintiff has a great deal to say,
But it seems he skipped Rule 8(a),
His Complaint is too long,
Which renders it wrong,
Please re-write and re-file today.