JACKSONVILLE — The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division has ruled that Jonathon Russo vs. Medicredit Inc. falls under the category of a “shotgun pleading."
In a ruling issued on Feb. 23, the court said a shotgun pleading "contains 'multiple counts where each count adopts the allegations of all preceding counts, causing each successive count to carry all that came before and the last count to be a combination of the entire complaint.'... As a result, 'most of the counts . . . contain irrelevant factual allegations and legal conclusions.'"
The ruling, issued by Judge Marcia Morales Howard, said shotgun pleadings give the court a difficult task of trying to figure out which facts are relevant to the case.
“In the Eleventh Circuit, shotgun pleadings are altogether unacceptable,” the court said. “Shotgun pleadings whether filed by plaintiff or defendant, exact an intolerable toll on the trial court’s docket, lead to unnecessary and unchanneled discovery, and impose unwarranted expense on the litigants, the court and the court’s parajudicial personnel and resources.”
When faced with a shotgun pleading, the court has the right to give the plaintiff or defendant a chance to appeal the case.
In this case, the court said Russo can fix the issues in his complaints and file an amended complaint. Russo is required to file before March 9. Otherwise, his case against the debt collector can be dismissed.
“When faced with the burden of deciphering a shotgun pleading, it is the trial court’s obligation to strike the pleading on its own initiative and force the plaintiff to replead,” the court said.