United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Civil Procedure — complaint
It was error to dismiss a prisoner’s pro se 99-page complaint because of its length.
“Since a plaintiff must now show plausibility, complaints are likely to be longer—and legitimately so—than before Twombly and Iqbal. And anyway long before those decisions judges and lawyers had abandoned any effort to keep complaints in federal cases short and plain. Typically complaints are long and complicated. One-hundred page complaints that survive a motion to dismiss are not rarities. The Forms Appendix to the civil rules, with its beautifully brief model complaints, is a fossil remnant of the era of reform that produced the civil rules in 1938. Three quarters of a century later a 28- page complaint pleading seven distinct wrongs is not excessively long. District judges could do more to require that complaints be cut down to size, but it is not apparent what more would be necessary in this case.”
“Unintelligibility is distinct from length, and often unrelated to it. A one-sentence complaint could be unintelligible. Far from being unintelligible, the complaint in this case, which the plaintiff says he wrote with the assistance of another prisoner (the plaintiff is Lithuanian and claims to be illiterate in English), is not only entirely intelligible; it is clear.”
Reversed and Remanded.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Lawrence, J., Posner, J.