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Fuerstenberg v. Milwaukee Area Technical College

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 8, 2019

SEAN FUERSTENBERG, Plaintiff,
v.
MILWAUKEE AREA TECHNICAL COLLEGE, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Now before the court are Plaintiff Sean Fuerstenberg's “Motion for More Definite Statement of a Pleading” (ECF No. 32) and “Motion to Strike Affirmative Defense” (ECF No. 34). All parties have consented to the full jurisdiction of a magistrate judge. (ECF Nos. 2, 4.) Fuerstenberg's motions are ready for resolution.

         MOTION FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT

         Fuerstenberg moves this court to order defendant Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) “to make a more definite statement of pleading for MATC's answers to both paragraphs 145 & 146 of [Fuerstenberg's] amended complaint.” (ECF No. 33 at 2.) Paragraphs 145 and 146 of MATC's answer state:

145. In my termination letter (Exhibit 4) I was advised that my status as a student is under review and that I am reminded that I am not allowed on campus. It should be noted that at my “fact finding” hearing on August 31, 2018 I was advised that I was not allowed to be a student at MATC during my suspension. It should be noted that at that time I was enrolled in online classes at MATC which required no on campus time. In addition to have having [sic] no reason whatsoever to suspend me as a faculty member at MATC other than for Retaliation, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to have suspended me as a student from MATC other than for Retaliation. It should also be noted that in my termination letter, Dakwar states that I will be receiving communication from the College's Student Services Division in the near future regarding my status as a student.
ANSWER: MATC admits that it reviewed Plaintiff's status as a student at MATC. MATC denies that is [sic] was retaliatory. MATC denies the remaining allegations of paragraph 145.
146. As of the filing date of this amended complaint, I have received no communication whatsoever from anyone at MATC regarding my status as a student. MATC's motivation in suspending me as a student from MATC when there was no reason whatsoever to incorporate my status as an MATC student into MATC's allegations against me was for Retaliation purposes as well as to intimidate me because I filed an internal Title IX Religion Discrimination complaint with and against MATC, because I filed a Retaliation Complaint with the EEOC against MATC, and because I filed a Federal Retaliation lawsuit against MATC.
ANSWER: MATC denies the allegations of paragraph 146.

(ECF No. 27, ¶¶ 145-46.) (Emphasis in original.)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) provides that “[a] party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” A motion under Rule 12(e) “is disfavored and is not a substitute for discovery.” Eastco Int'l Corp. v. Broan-Nu Tone LLC, No. 16-C-1057, 2017 WL 1194014, at *2 (E.D. Wis. March 30, 2017) (citation omitted). It “is proper only when the pleading to which it is addressed is so vague that it cannot be responded to.” Hernandez v. City Wide Insulation of Madison, Inc., No. 05C0303, 2006 WL 2690980, at *1 (E.D. Wis. Sept. 19, 2006) (internal quotations and citation omitted).

         Rule 12(e) is limited to “a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed.” Fuerstenberg has not sought, and the court has not allowed him, to reply to M AT C's answer. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(a)(7) (“Only these pleadings are allowed: … (7) if the court orders one, a reply to an answer.”). Even if the court had ordered him to reply, Fuerstenberg does not argue that MATC's answer is “so vague or ambiguous” that he “cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Instead, he seeks information regarding his status as a student at MATC (ECF No. 33 at 2-3), which may be obtained through the discovery process. For these reasons, the court will deny Fuerstenberg's motion for a more definite statement.

         MOTION TO STRIKE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE

         Fuerstenberg also moves this court to strike the following phrase from Affirmative Defense No. 6 of MATC's answer: “a prior request made in bad faith to have himself identified as a female African-American in his student and employment files ….” ...


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