Minnesota judge finds housing qui tam suit against cities both too long, insufficiently particular

by Ben Vernia | January 16th, 2013

In a highly critical opinion in <em>U.S. ex rel. Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, et al., District Judge Patrick J. Schultz denied the defendant cities’ motion to dismiss without prejudice, and put the relators on notice that, with new counsel, they would need to file an amended complaint that met both Fed. R. Civ. P. 8’s requirement that a complaint be “short and plain,” as well as Rule 9(b)’s requirement of particularity. (In the case, the relators alleged that the defendants falsely certified to the Department of Housing and Urban Development that they were working to further fair housing.)

Regarding particularity, Judge Schultz wrote: “despite the prolixity of the complaint, relators often make broad, imprecise claims — e.g., ‘Relators have documented multiple and ongoing violations’ — without providing specific examples.”

One of the relators, acting pro se, had been sanctioned as a vexatious litigant, and the Court admonished him specifically for violating procedural rules with which he was familiar. Judge Schultz granted the relators’ counsel until January 31, 2013, to file a complaint satisfying the rules, or face dismissal of the suit.

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