United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Hollis J. Larson, Plaintiff,
Lucinda Jesson, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. MAGNUSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
during the course of this litigation, including most recently
on June 30, 2017, this matter has been stayed due to its
relation to the claims raised in Karsjens v. Piper,
No. 1 l-CV-3659 (DWF/TNL). (See, e.g., Docket No.
38.) The Court has again reviewed the complaint in this
matter and has determined that the claims raised by Plaintiff
Hollis J. Larson are now sufficiently distinct from the
issues remaining pending in Karsjens that a further
stay of this matter is no longer necessary or in the
interests of judicial economy. Accordingly, the stay earlier
imposed in this matter will be lifted.
filed several motions for relief either just prior to the
imposition of the stay or shortly thereafter. The Court will
now review those motions:
Larson requested that the Court appoint counsel in this
matter. (See Docket No. 6.) "A pro se litigant has no
statutory or constitutional right to have counsel appointed
in a civil case." Stevens v. Redwing, 146 F.3d
538, 546 (8th Cir. 1998); see also In re
Lane, 801 F.2d 1040, 1042 (8th Cir. 1986) ("The
decision to appoint counsel in civil cases is committed to
the discretion of the district court."). As explained
more fully below, Larson's complaint is critically
flawed; it is thus unclear at this time whether this
litigation will be permitted to go forward at all. Not until
the Court is presented with an appropriate pleading can it
determine whether it is in the interests of justice to
appoint counsel to represent Larson. Larson's motion for
appointment of counsel will therefore be denied without
Larson has filed a motion to change venue. (Docket No. 18.)
Larson does not contend that the United States District Court
for the District of Minnesota is the incorrect forum for his
claims. Instead, Larson argues that this matter should be
heard in a different division of the District of Minnesota.
See 28 U.S.C. § 103 (dividing the District of Minnesota
into six divisions). "Divisional venue" is no
longer a statutory requirement. Crumrine v. NEG Micon
USA, Inc., 104 F.Supp.2d 1123, 1126 (N.D. Iowa 2000).
Even leaving that aside, however, this matter was filed and
assigned to the Fifth Division of the District of Minnesota,
which encompasses Carlton County, where Larson alleges the
events at issue in this litigation occurred. (Docket No. 18
at 1.) There is no basis for transferring this matter to a
next asks that the docket in this matter be changed to
reflect that he is not a "prisoner, " but instead a
civil detainee. (Docket No. 20.) The alterations requested by
Larson have already been made. Accordingly, Larson's
motion to change the docket will be denied as moot.
Larson requested in forma pauperis ("IFP") status
in his prosecution of an appeal of the stay imposed in this
matter. (Docket No. 25.) It appears that Larson's notice
of appeal was never transmitted, perhaps because this matter
was stayed. In any event, the stay in this matter is now
lifted, and both Larson's appeal and his application to
proceed IFP on appeal are now moot.
to Larson's pleading: Over the course of his 81-page
Complaint, Larson names over 150 Defendants to this action,
each one of whom is alleged to have committed nine discrete
and unrelated causes of action. (Compl. ¶¶ 184-92.)
But the vast majority of the Defendants named to this action
are, based on the allegations in the complaint, related to
only a few (at most) of the claims being raised in this
action. By pleading all claims against all defendants, Larson
has violated both the requirement of Rule 8(a)(2) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that a pleading must consist
only of "a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " and
the requirement of Rule 11(b)(2) that each claim presented by
a litigant be warranted under existing law.
This Court has repeatedly criticized the filing of
"kitchen-sink" or "shotgun"
complaints-complaints in which a plaintiff brings every
conceivable claim against every conceivable defendant. Such
complaints are pernicious for many reasons. See Davis v.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consol., 516 F.3d 955, 981 (11th
Cir. 2008) ("The unacceptable consequences of shotgun
pleading are many."). For one thing, complaints like the
one in this case unfairly burden defendants and courts. The
plaintiff who files a kitchen-sink complaint shifts onto the
defendant and the court the burden of identifying the
plaintiffs genuine claims and determining which of those
claims might have legal support. In this case, for example,
plaintiffs have essentially coughed up an unsightly hairball
of factual and legal allegations, stepped to the side, and
invited the defendants and the Court to pick through the mess
and determine if plaintiffs may have pleaded a viable claim
Gurman v. Metro Hous. & Redev. Auth., 842
F.Supp.2d 1151, 1153 (D. Minn. 2011) (Schiltz, J.). "It
is the plaintiffs' burden, under both Rule 8 and Rule 11,
to reasonably investigate their claims, to research the
relevant law, to plead only viable claims, and to plead those
claims concisely and clearly, so that a defendant can readily
respond to them and a court can readily resolve them."
district court may sua sponte dismiss a complaint that fails
to comply with Rule 8. See Olson v. Little, 978 F.2d
1264 (8th Cir. 1992) (unpublished table disposition). That
said, this Court will not recommend dismissal of Larson's
complaint at this time. Instead, this Court will provide
Larson with an opportunity to file an amended complaint that
complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Larson
should take care to plead facts demonstrating how each
defendant to this action violated the law. Further, Larson
should clearly distinguish which particular claims are being
pleaded against each named defendant. Any defendants against
whom no causes of action can be maintained should be omitted
from Larson's amended complaint.
must submit his amended complaint by no later than October 2,
2017, failing which this matter will be dismissed without
prejudice for failure to prosecute. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b).
Defendants will not be required to file an answer or other
responsive pleading until after Larson's amended
complaint has been reviewed under § 1915(e)(2)(B) and
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
IT IS ...