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Directv, Inc. v. Semulka

February 9, 2006

DIRECTV, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
EDWARD SEMULKA DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Hay

Judge Lancaster

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses and Extraneous Material Attached to Defendant's Answer (doc. 31) filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)*fn1 and 12(f)*fn2 . Although Defendant has had several opportunities to respond to the motion, he did not do so.*fn3

Accordingly, the motion is deemed unopposed.

Rules 8(c) and 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure obligate a pleader to assert affirmative defenses if appropriate or they will be deemed waived. See Trio Process Corp. v. L. Goldstein's Sons, Inc., 461 F.2d 66, 74 (3d Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 997 (1972). Affirmative defenses must adhere to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), which requires that a pleading must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."

Generally, motions to strike under Rule 12(f) are not favored by federal courts and will be denied unless the allegations have no possible relation to the controversy or if they confuse the issues. Tonka Corp. v. Rose Art Industries, Inc., 836 F.Supp. 200, 217 (D.N.J. 1993). However, a district court may strike affirmative defense pleadings in at least three circumstances:

A three-part test determines the fate of an affirmative defense subject to a motion to strike. (1) The matter must be properly pleaded as an affirmative defense; (2) the matter must be adequately pleaded under the requirements of Rules 8 and 9; and (3) the matter must withstand a Rule 12(b)6 challenge--that is, if the defendant could prove no set of facts in support of the affirmative defense that would defeat the complaint, the defense must be stricken as legally inadequate.

Surface Shields, Inc. v. Poly-Tak Protection Systems, Inc., 213 F.R.D. 307, 308 (N.D. Ill. 2003)(quoting Renalds v. S.R.G. Restaurant Group, 119 F.Supp.2d 800, 802-03 (N.D.Ill. 2000)). Moreover, affirmative defenses that are merely bare bones conclusory allegations do not meet the standards of Rule 8 and must be stricken. Id. As well, denials are not affirmative defenses. See Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 8. Lastly, as noted, Rule 12(f) permits the Court to strike "any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." In determining whether to grant a motion to strike, district courts possess "considerable discretion" under Rule 12(f). River Road Development Corp. v. Carlson Corporation-Northeast., 1990 WL 69085, *2 (E.D.Pa. 1990)(quoted in Tonka Corp., 836 F.Supp. at 217).

In his Answer, Defendant set forth what can only be described as a laundry list of thirty-two affirmative defenses, many of which are fairly boiler-plate:

1. Plaintiff's claims are barred by doctrine of accord and satisfaction.

2. Plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of assumption of the risk.

3. Plaintiff's claims are barred due to its contributory negligence.

4. Plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of estoppel.

5. Plaintiff's claims are barred due to a failure of ...


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