In an opinion issued today, Judge Pauley lamented the “troubling trend toward prolixity in pleading [that] is infecting court dockets in this district and elsewhere.” Pointing to the 175-paragraph complaint, “larded with more than 1,400 pages of exhibits” and the 303-page, 1,263-paragraph counterclaim in a “relatively straightforward” case, Judge Pauley admonished both sides for their failure to adhere to Rule 8’s exhortation that a pleading contain a “short and plain statement of the claim.”
As Judge Pauley explained:
The “short and plain” statement requirement of Rule 8 serves many salutary purposes. It focuses litigants and judges on the real issues in dispute. It also aids the public in understanding the judicial process. Disregarding it only spawns mischief.
Judge Pauley considered both dismissal and more draconian sanctions for the defendants’ lengthy counterclaims, before deciding to rule on — and largely dismiss — them on their merits.
Recently, Senior Judge Glasser lamented about needlessly long pleadings and offered a solution that was undoubtedly effective in its time but would not likely be countenanced today. Quoting Lord Buckmaster, formerly Lord Chancellor of England, Senior Judge Glasser related that
in the reign of the Stuarts there was one counsel who had offended the court by preparing a needlessly long and prolix pleading on parchment. He was ordered to have his pleadings taken, a large hole to be cut in the middle, he was to have his head pushed through it, and he was to attend the first day of the tenn of every court with his head through the pleadings.
Brooklyn Downtown Hotel, LLC v. New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO, No. 14-cv-6067 (ILG), 2015 WL 779441, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2015) (quoting Lord Buckmaster, The Romance of the Law, 11 A.B.A. J. 579, 581 (Sept. 1925)). While Lord Buckmaster’s in terrorem remedy is tempting, this Court fashions a pragmatic solution aimed at advancing this litigation beyond the pleading stage for the benefit of the litigants. This Court will address each of the counterclaims on their merits, giving many of them more thought than they deserve. And because all but one of the Hagans’ counterclaims will be dismissed, the parties will be directed to submit amended pleadings that clearly and concisely present the issues and comport with the strictures of Rule 8.