United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage
OPINION [DKT. NOS. 10, 11]
RENÉE MARIE BUMB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon motions to dismiss filed
by defendants James Grazioli, Gilberto Velasquaz, Jeff
Weisemann, Luis Perez, and the State of New Jersey,
(collectively, the “State Defendants”), [Dkt. No.
10], and Louis Narvaez (collectively with the State
Defendants, the “Defendants”), [Dkt. No. 11].
Both motions seek the dismissal of Plaintiff Flavia
Stovall's (the “Plaintiff”) Complaint in its
entirety. The Defendants' motions will be GRANTED, and
Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed, without
Flavia Stovall is an African American woman who has been
employed by the New Jersey Judiciary, Camden Vicinage (the
“Camden Vicinage”) since December 1998 and who
was 59 years old at the time she filed this action. (Compl.
¶¶ 1, 26, 33). Defendants in this action are her
employer-the Camden Vicinage of the New Jersey Superior
Court-and several of Plaintiff's current and former
supervisors. This action is the latest in a long line of
disputes between Plaintiff and her employers, including the
Camden Vicinage. Plaintiff has sued the Camden Vicinage in
state and federal Court on multiple occasions, and has
likewise filed numerous internal complaints and EEOC
complaints against it. (Id. ¶ 16-20).
who at the time was proceeding pro se, filed her
Complaint in this matter on August 9, 2016, bringing claims
for (1) discrimination and retaliation in violation of 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Title
VII”); (2) discrimination and retaliation in violation
of N.J.S.A. § 10:5-1., et seq. (the
“NJLAD”); (3) “malicious acts”; (4)
violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment-brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(“Section 1983”); and (5) intentional infliction
of emotional distress.
filed the currently pending motions on October 11, 2016. On
November 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed a letter requesting an
extension of her time to respond to Defendants' motions
so that she could secure representation. [Dkt. No. 13]. On
February 23, 2017, the Court entered an Order affording
Plaintiff thirty days to secure counsel and administratively
terminating the Defendants' motions to dismiss, among
other things. [Dkt. No. 14]. On March 23, 2017, Plaintiff
filed a letter advising the Court that she had been unable to
secure counsel and requesting that the Court grant her an
additional sixty-day extension to prepare a pro se
response to the pending motions. [Dkt. No. 15].
filed her opposition to the motions on May 30, 2017. Less
than a month later, on June 19, 2017, Clifford G. Stewart
entered his appearance as counsel on behalf of Plaintiff.
[Dkt. No. 20]. On September 26, 2017, the Court reinstated
the matter to its active docket and directed Plaintiff's
counsel to advise whether he intended to supplement
Plaintiff's pro se opposition to the currently
pending motions. [Dkt. No. 22]. Counsel for Plaintiff did not
respond to the Court's Order.
Plaintiff was proceeding pro se when she drafted the
Complaint, the Court interprets it liberally. See
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see
also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)
(“[H]owever inartfully pleaded, ” the
“allegations of a pro se complaint [are held] to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers[.]”). This does not, however, absolve Plaintiff
of the need to adhere to the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See, e.g., Fantone v. Latini,
780 F.3d 184, 193 (3d Cir. 2015), as amended (Mar. 24,
2015)(“a pro se complaint . . . must be held to
‘less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted
by lawyers;' . . . but we nonetheless review the pleading
to ensure that it has ‘sufficient factual matter;
accepted as true; to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on [its] face.'”). Among other things, a
pro se plaintiff's complaint must comply with
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.
8(a) requires that a pleading contain “a short and
plain statement of the grounds for the court's
jurisdiction” and “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1), (2). Each averment must
be “simple, concise, and direct.” Id. at
8(d)(1). “Taken together, ” Rules 8(a) and
8(d)(1) “underscore the emphasis placed on clarity and
brevity by the federal pleading rules.” In re
Westinghouse Sec. Litig., 90 F.3d 696, 702 (3d Cir.
1996)(citation omitted). The purpose of Rule 8 is to
“give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Thus, a
complaint which “is so verbose, confused and redundant
that its true substance, if any, is well disguised, ”
may be subject to dismissal. Hearns v. San Bernardino
Police Dep't, 530 F.3d 1124, 1131 (9th Cir. 2008)
(quotation marks omitted); see also Simmons v.
Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995).
Complaint consists of 91 paragraphs-many of which contain
subparagraphs-of single spaced text. In it, Plaintiff delves
into minute details of dozens of interactions she had with
several Defendants. Plaintiff's complaint reads more like
a daily log of her issues with management than a short and
plain statement of any grounds for legal relief. It is
unclear from Plaintiff's excessively detailed Complaint
what conduct, and by which Defendants, she alleges is legally
actionable-i.e., discriminatory or retaliatory as opposed to
simply rude or unfair-and what conduct is simply provided as
background information. Moreover, Plaintiff refers often to
her former suits and EEOC complaints in a manner that makes
it unclear where this Complaint begins and those already
concluded matters end. In the end, Plaintiff's Complaint
is so “excessively voluminous and unfocused” that
it “defies any attempt to meaningfully answer or plead
to it.” Binsack v. Lackawanna Cty. Prison, 438
Fed.Appx. 158, 160 (3d Cir. 2011). Accordingly, the Complaint
will be dismissed, without prejudice.
will be afforded an opportunity to amend the Complaint, this
time with the assistance of counsel. Any amended complaint should
comport with Rule 8's requirement of “simple,
concise, and direct” averments and need not delve into
such explicit detail that it becomes overly burdensome for
the Court or Defendants to determine the grounds on which
Plaintiff seeks relief. Should she choose to amend and
continue to pursue this matter, Plaintiff should focus on the
facts that she believes give rise to a cause of action in
this suit, specifically identifying which Defendants
are alleged to have taken which acts and on what grounds
those acts provide Plaintiff with an entitlement to relief.
Order consistent with this Opinion shall issue on this date.
 The Court notes that in her opposition
to Defendants' motions, Plaintiff concedes that her
claims for “malicious acts” and intentional
infliction of emotional distress were improper. Accordingly,
the Court anticipates that those ...