Lance Armstrong and the Rules of Civil Procedure

The United States Anti-Doping Agency ("USADA") recently started an investigation into allegations of Lance Armstrong's use of performance-enhancing drugs during his unprecedented 7 straight Tour de France victories.  Lance Armstrong has vigorously denied these allegations, and went so far as to recently file a lawsuit against the USADA and to seek an injunction against the USADA (see my previous blog on injunctions).

After reading Armstrong's complaint, US District Judge Sam Sparks for the Western Division of Texas threw out the lawsuit , not because of the merits of the case, but because the complaint was too long.  Under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), a plaintiff's complaint must contain "short and plain" statements of both the basis of the court's jurisdiction, and the plaintiff's legal claim for relief. Likewise, Rule 8(d)(1) states, "Each allegation must be simple, concise, and direct."  Judge Sparks noted that:

"Armstrong's complaint is far from short, spanning eighty pages and containing 261 numbered paragraphs, many of which have multiple subparts. Worse, the bulk of these paragraphs contain 'allegations' that are wholly irrelevant to Armstrong's claims and which, the Court must presume, were included solely to increase media coverage of this case, and to incite public opinion against Defendants."

Since the Court made no ruling on the actual merits of the case, Armstrong's legal team will re-file a shorter complaint, but the 7-time Tour winner did not have a good start to this lawsuit