United States District Court, D. Kansas
JEROME BIRDSONG, et. al, Plaintiffs,
UNIFIED GOVERNMENT OF KANSAS CITY, KANSAS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
TERESA J. JAMES, Magistrate Judge.
In this removal action, Plaintiff asserts claims for malicious prosecution, unlawful seizure, and supervisor liability against Defendants Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, and thirteen officers and detectives with the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, in their individual and official capacities. The matter is presently before the Court on the Motion for a More Definite Statement filed by Defendants Mills and Bell (ECF No. 61). In their motion, Defendants Mills and Bell request an order under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e) requiring Plaintiffs to amend Count 3 of their Second Amendment Complaint (for malicious prosecution) to specify which defendant fabricated evidence, suppressed exculpatory evidence, mislead prosecutors and judges, threatened and intimidated Plaintiffs, committed perjury, ignored evidence in their possession, and falsified police reports. They also request that Plaintiffs be required to allege facts as to how Defendants Mills and Bell otherwise "agreed, conspired, and acted in concert to falsely and maliciously prosecute" Plaintiff Birdsong. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.
I. Plaintiffs' Factual Allegations
According to the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 58) (the "Complaint"), this lawsuit arises out of the events surrounding unlawful arrests of Plaintiff Jerome Birdsong on May 3, 2010, May 7, 2010, and May 15, 2010, and continuing through the final disposition of these three cases on August 12, 2011. During this fifteen month period, Plaintiffs allege they were targeted by the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department and subjected to repeated violations of their constitutional rights.
Relevant to the motion here, Birdsong asserts a claim for malicious prosecution against Defendants Trusskey, Mills, Bell, and Littlefield. He alleges that these four defendants agreed, conspired, and acted in concert to falsely and maliciously prosecute him for the crime of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, and felony fleeing and alluding. He further alleges that the conspiracy to maliciously prosecute him is manifest by a variety of methods in each of the three criminal charges filed against him. One of those methods was to distribute deliberately false or recklessly false information about his association with a particular vehicle, essentially creating a green light for officers to stop and arrest him on sight wherever he or the vehicle he is associated with were found. According to Birdsong, in all three criminal cases filed against him, false information was intentionally or recklessly presented at all stages of the proceedings and exculpatory evidence was intentionally or recklessly withheld.
When confronted with false, misleading, or incomplete information, the officer's response was indifference. In their efforts to maliciously prosecute Birdsong, Defendants also made a concerted effort to intimidate Plaintiff Dominguez into incriminating Birdsong and to force her to cooperate. According to Birdsong, during the investigation in his Wyandotte County District criminal case10CR626, Officers Haulmark and Toms joined with Officers Littlefield and Mills to intimidate Dominguez and forced her to tell Littlefield what he wanted to hear.
Birdsong's 71-page Complaint contains over 50 pages of alleged facts. Mills is specifically mentioned in paragraphs 55, 56, 59, 67, and 68. Bell is specifically mentioned in paragraphs 55-59. Both Mills and Bell were involved in the events which led to the filing of criminal charges against Birdsong in Wyandotte District Court Case No. 10CR626. Specifically, Birdsong alleges that Mills and Bell arrested him on May 16, 2010 on a warrant for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, after Birdsong was earlier misidentified as a suspect by Trusskey.
II. The Parties' Arguments
Mills and Bell contend that Birdsong's allegations in Count 3 of the Complaint regarding their actions are so contradictory and ambiguous that they cannot reasonably prepare a response. They argue that Birdsong's use of "defendants" collectively in Count 3 does not identify the causal connection between the alleged actions of Mills and Bell and the alleged ongoing malicious prosecution of Birdsong. Mills and Bell argue that by ambiguously grouping the pleading allegations against "defendants, " Birdsong has failed to identify which actions by which defendant violated their rights. Mills and Bell argue that this lack of specificity in Count 3 therefore entitles them to a more definite statement under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e).
Plaintiffs assert the following in Count 3 of their Complaint:
Malicious Prosecution-Plaintiff Jerome Birdsong (against Defendants Trusskey, Mills, Bell and Littlefield)
279. Plaintiff Jerome Birdsong hereby incorporates by reference the foregoing statements and allegations [Paragraphs 1-278] and further state as follows:
280. Defendants Trusskey, Mills, Bell and Littlefield, were all employees of the Kansas City Kansas Police Department ...