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Davis v. Alabama Department of Human Resources of Limestone County

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

March 9, 2017

JOHN H. DAVIS, SHELIA D. DAVIS and ERIC S. DAVIS, a minor by parents John H. Davis, father, and Shelia D. Davis, mother, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES OF LIMESTONE COUNTY, ALABAMA, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PHILIP P. SIMON, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         John and Shelia Davis's first amended complaint seeks relief based on their claims that the State of Alabama and its Department of Human Resources, through a child welfare action, have unlawfully taken custody of their disabled son, Eric, and blocked visitation by John and Shelia.[1] As I've previously observed, that simple sentence offers the gist of the Davises' lawsuit in a nutshell, but their pleadings are far from simple. The first amended complaint is 165 pages long, names 16 identified defendants and 20 John Doe defendants, and sets forth 16 counts. [DE 10.] Nine defendants have filed motions to dismiss that are fully briefed and ready for decision.[2]

         The motions of 8 of the defendants raise a common threshold issue that is potentially dispositive of the entire first amended complaint, namely that the Davises' pleading fatally fails to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) and 10(b). Rule 8 is entitled “General Rules of Pleading.” Subsection (a)(b)(2) provides that “[a] pleading that states a claim for relief must contain...a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Federal Rule 10 governs the “Form of Pleadings.” Rule 10(b) requires a party to “state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.” These are not just technical requirements. They are necessary for the orderly handling of litigation in federal court. A reading of the Davises' pleading readily demonstrates that it falls woefully short of the requirements of these rules.

         Let's start with the causes of actions as identified by the Davises in the first amended complaint. It's a panoply of nearly every cause of action one could conceivably imagine in this type of circumstance:

I. Defamation
II. Fraud
III. “Relator” (a whistleblower False Claims Act type of claim)
IV. Kidnapping
V. Theft
VI. RICO
VII. Alienation of Affect/Alienation of Familial Relations/Loss of Society & Companionship VIII. Abuse of Process/Abuse of Judicial Power IX. Battery X. Interference with Parental Custody & Visitation/Violation of 4th & 14th A.
XI. Negligence
XII. Overuse and Misuse of Medications/Violations of HIPAA
XIII. Violation of 1st Amendment Rights/Interference with Residual Parental Rights
XIV. False Claims Act/Mail Fraud/Wire Fraud/Forgery
XV. Breach of Fiduciary Duty/Suborning ...

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