A Florida federal judge chided putative class action lead plaintiff Michael Fox for what she described as “a quintessential shotgun pleading” last month and dismissed two defendants to Fox’s consumer protection lawsuit. Fox alleged violations of Florida’s consumer protection and gratuity notice laws against Loews Corp., Loews Hotels Holding Corp., MB Redevelopment LLC, and Loews Miami Beach Hotel Operating Co. Inc., claiming that he was wrongfully charged a 20 percent service charge when dining at Loews hotels in Florida. The service charge, he stated, was added with either no notice provided on the restaurant menus or websites, or, if notice was provided, it was written in prohibitively small font.
The court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss as to Loews Corp., Loews Hotels Holding Corp.—both Delaware corporations with principal places of business in New York—for lack of personal jurisdiction, and did not hold back in its reproach for Fox’s “shotgun” pleading style. A “shotgun complaint,” the Court explained, “typically contains several counts, each one incorporating by reference the allegations of its predecessors, leading to a situation where most of the counts (i.e., all but the first) contain irrelevant factual allegations and legal conclusions.” “Shame on Plaintiff for not heeding the Eleventh Circuit’s repeated pronouncements criticizing shotgun pleadings like his.” Fox filed a second amended complaint after the dismissal, which the remaining defendants again moved to dismiss earlier this month.
Takeaway: “Shotgun” pleading, as the Florida court describes, may both draw the court’s ire and be grounds for dismissal.