United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION TO STRIKE IN TOTO
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court grants a defendant's motion to strike a
plaintiff's complaint in its entirety pursuant to Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(f) and 8(a) because the complaint
does not contain a “short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”
and is replete with “scandalous matter.”
18, 2018, John S. Barth filed a thirty-two page complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the United States
of America, alleging that the United States violated his
civil rights together with fifty pages entitled “Fact
Appendices”. Compl. (ECF No. 1); Id.
Attach. 1 Fact Appendices (Fact Appendix).
On June 5, 2018, Assistant United States Attorney James
Concannon entered his appearance on behalf of the United
States. Notice of Appearance (ECF No. 4). On July
23, 2018, the United States filed a motion to strike
complaint or to dismiss. Def. United States of Am.'s
Mot. to Strike Pl.'s Compl. in Toto under Rule 12(f) or,
in the Alternative, to Dismiss under Rule 8(A)(2) and
(D)(1) (ECF No. 5) (Def.'s Mot.). On July
27, 2018, Mr. Barth filed a response to the United
States' motion and moved to obtain an order requiring the
United States to answer the Complaint. Opp'n to Def.
Mot. with Mot. to Order Answer (ECF No. 6). On August
10, 2018, the United States filed a reply to Mr. Barth's
response. Def. United States of Am.'s Reply in
Support of Mot. to Strike Pl.'s Compl. in Toto under Rule
12(f) or, in the Alternative, to Dismiss under Rules 8(A)(2)
and (D)(1) (ECF No. 8) (Def.'s Mot).
August 22, 2018, Mr. Barth filed a motion for judgment in
default against the United States and for an order requiring
the United States answer the Complaint. Mot. for J. in
Default (ECF No. 9). On September 7, 2018, the United
States filed a response to the motion for default judgment.
Def. United States of Am.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Mot.
for Default J. (ECF No. 13). On September 9, 2018, Mr.
Barth filed a reply to the United States' response.
Pl.'s Resp. to Motion for Default J. (ECF No.
14) (Pl.'s Resp.). On September 24, 2018, the
Court issued an order dismissing Mr. Barth's motion for
default judgment and dismissing his motion for order to
answer. Order on Mot. for J. in Default (ECF No.
October 24, 2018, Mr. Barth filed another motion to order
answer, reiterating his previous motion for order to answer.
Mot. for Order to Answer (ECF No. 16). On October
31, 2018, the Defendant filed its opposition. Def. United
States of Am.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Mot. to Order
Answer (ECF No. 17). On October 31, 2018, Mr. Barth
filed his reply. Reply to Def. Opp'n to Mot. to Order
Answer (ECF No. 18).
Rule of Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a pleading contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief” and Rule 8(d)(1)
requires that each allegation be “simple, concise, and
direct.” Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) allows
the Court to “strike from a pleading any redundant,
immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Mr.
Barth's Complaint is thirty-two pages long, and also
includes fifty pages of “fact appendices” and 139
pages of “Memoranda of Law.” Compl. at
1-32. The Defendant contends that Mr. Barth's
“inclusion of immaterial, impertinent, and confusing
information and arguments has rendered his overly long
Complaint effectively unintelligible.” Def.'s
Mot. at 16. Furthermore, as highlighted by the United
States, “it is not clear who he is suing, or for
what.” Id. The Court agrees.
Defendant's motion traces in detail the long history of
Mr. Barth's dispute with his neighbor that Mr. Barth has
extensively and unsuccessfully litigated in Florida state
court, in United States District Court in Florida, in the
Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and in the United
States Court of Federal Claims. Id. at 3-5. Mr.
Barth's Complaint contains innumerable offensive and
derogatory statements as well as “unsupported,
inflammatory allegations of criminal conduct.”
Def.'s Mot. at 10. These attacks are leveled
against the Defendant, judges, judicial employees, and
private individuals. For example, he accuses state of Florida
Judge Kimberly Bonner “her relatives Lisa and Barbara
Carlton, and Mabry Carlton Ranch” of having
“stolen $51 million in state funds in a racketeering
enterprise with the defendant county, state, and political
faction, ” and he claims that the “racketeers
promoted and assigned [Judge Bonner] herself to attack the
Plaintiff by continuing her obstruction of justice.”
Compl. at 17-18. He accuses “[t]he defendant
county and state and Carlton defendants” of
“operat[ing] a racketeering enterprise within the
judiciary and agencies of Florida.” Id. at 18.
Not satisfied with attacking the state judiciary, Mr. Barth
assails the federal judiciary as well. He states that
“[t]he United States has become a party to this action
only as a result of the abuses of office by
anti-Constitutional deep south judges Kovachevich and
11th Circuit judges, and corrupt Supreme court
employee Travers.” Id.
he also seeks relief in the form of the imprisonment and
harassment of the judges who previously ruled against him:
The individual defendants having constructively waived
objection thereto, Plaintiff demands the imprisonment of each
of them for four years under continuous monitoring and
noisemaking sufficient to ensure that they do not sleep more
than four hours in any twenty-four hour period.
Id. at 31.
Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the striking
of a complaint where the allegations are
“argumentative, prolix, redundant, and verbose.”
McCoy v. Providence Journal Co., 190 F.2d 760, 766
(1st Cir. 1951). In the words of the McCoy Court,
“[i]t is hard to imagine a pleading more completely at
variance with both the letter and the spirit of Rule 8(e)(1)
which requires that each averment of a pleading be simple,
concise, and direct.” Id. Similarly, the
District Court struck a complaint in its entirety for failing
to comply with Rule 8(a) and 8(e)(1) when it was “the
complete antithesis of the type of complaint contemplated by
Rule 8(a)(2).” Martin v. Hunt, 28 F.R.D. 35,
36 (D. Mass. 1961).
United States has also argued that the complaint should be
struck in its entirety under Rule 12(f). As the Government
recognizes, “[m]otions to strike under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(f) are viewed with disfavor and are infrequently
granted.” Lunsford v. United States, 570 F.2d
221, 229 (8th Cir. 1977) (citing 4 Charles Alan Wright and
Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1380
(1st ed. 1969) (Wright & Miller). However, motions to
strike under Rule 12(f) have been granted when “the
presence of the surplusage will prejudice the adverse
party.” F.T.C. v. Hope Now Modifications, LLC,