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Weiland v. Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

July 8, 2015, Decided

No. 13-14396


 [*1316]  ED CARNES, Chief Judge:

Nearly one hundred and thirty years ago, one of Georgia's greatest judges described the ideal in pleading:

Pleading is pure statement; just as much as a letter addressed to your sweetheart or your wife or your friend. The plaintiff complains that he has such a case, and he tells you what it is. The defendant says either that [**2]  that is not so, or something else is so, and he makes his statement. The true rule ought to be this: the statement ought to consist precisely of what has to be [proven]. It ought not to fall short, or go beyond. If it goes beyond, it has surplusage matter that is unnecessary. Whatever is irrelevant, whatever is non-essential in statement, ought not to be in. Let the law declare that every man's pleadings shall embrace a full and clear statement of all matters of fact, which he is required to [prove], and no other.

Logan Bleckley, "Pleading," 3 Ga. Bar Assoc. Report 40, 41-42 (1886). The complaint that gave rise to this appeal does not approach that ideal, but it claims that the plaintiff has a case, and parts of it do a good enough job in telling what that case is to require the defendants to say "either that that is not so, or something else is so."

The story that Christopher Weiland's complaint tells is about two Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies shooting, tasering, and beating him in his own bedroom without warning or provocation during their response to a "Baker Act call."3 Finding that the latest version of Weiland's complaint failed to comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) and 10(b), the district court [**3]  dismissed with prejudice his § 1983 claims against the deputies and the Sheriff's Office. As an alternative ground for the dismissal of the § 1983 claims against the Sheriff's Office, the court found that Weiland had failed to plausibly allege a custom or policy of deliberate indifference sufficient to impose municipal liability. The district court also  [*1317]  dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds two of his three state law claims; the third one it remanded to state court. This is Weiland's appeal.

The allegations in Weiland's third amended complaint, which we accept as true for present purposes, are as follows.

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792 F.3d 1313 *; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11750 **; 92 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 378; 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1366


Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. D.C. Docket No. 9:12-cv-81416-WPD.

Weiland v. Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201861 (S.D. Fla., Aug. 28, 2013)



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Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Pleading & Practice, Rule Application & Interpretation, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Defects of Form, Governments, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, Amendment of Pleadings, Leave of Court, Dismissal, Involuntary Dismissals, Failure to State Claims, Sanctions, Baseless Filings, General Overview, De Novo Review, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Scope of Protection, Criminal Law & Procedure, Commencement of Criminal Proceedings, Arrests, Reasonable Force, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Conspiracy Against Rights, Elements, Section 1983 Actions, Elements, Procedural Due Process, Bill of Rights, Cruel & Unusual Punishment, Scope, Law Enforcement Officials, Torts, Intentional Torts, Malicious Prosecution, Civil Rights Actions, Immunity From Liability, Local Officials, Customs & Policies, Respondeat Superior Distinguished, Deliberate Indifference, Defenses, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liability, State Tort Claims Acts, Exclusions From Liability