What Is a Shotgun Pleading, Truly?

Longtimers know our affinity for shotgun pleadings, but let's get metaphysical for a moment -- what are they, really?

Is it just when you incorporate all prior allegations into each count, or is there something "more" to a shotgun pleading?

Perhaps something essential to its shotgun nature, something at its core that screams: this complaint is a mess.

Judge Marra weighs in on this interesting philosophical debate:
The Court begins by noting that the Amended Complaint does not constitute a shotgun pleading. Indeed, in those cases, it is “virtually impossible to know which allegations of fact are intended to support which claim(s) for relief.” Anderson v. District Board of Trustees of Central Florida Community College, 77 F.3d 364,366 (11th 1996). Although several counts of the Amended Complaint do incorporate by reference all of the preceding allegations, the Court finds the claims are sufficiently definite to enable Defendant to know with what it is charged and to enable Defendant to respond to the allegations.
For goodness sakes nobody tell Judge Tjoflat!

(BTW here is the back story on that amazing photo.)


  1. I think you're on to something, SFL, and Judge Marra was probably correct on this one. The term "shotgun complaint" is really just a term for a complaint that contains a hodgepodge of allegations that aren't organized in any particular way and that makes it nearly impossible to determine what claims the plaintiff is making and therefore makes it difficult if not impossible for the defendant to intelligently respond. A common feature of a shotgun complaint is the incorporation of all prior allegations into each count. Especially when counts proceed on different or alternative theories, this can present problems. But in a case like this one -- which appears to be a run-of-the-mill FLSA action -- the concerns that Judge Tjoflat often raises are probably simply not present. Rules 7 through 10 govern pleadings and, as with most other things in the law, we should be hesitant about applying too heavy of a judicial gloss to any of them.

  2. Rank amateur. You should see pleadings moi. Indeed much of it is en Francis.

  3. Shumie doome doome doobie doo. Shumie shum shum shum shunie shum shum.

  4. Everybody who knows anything knows the only acceptable shumie song is "shumie shumie cocopuffs, shumie shumie shumie"

  5. Speaking of the Shumster I went to REN last night. Thursday night is college night at REN. As a single male, I can only say it is well worth the trip.


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