United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge United States District
Graham Engineering Corporation ("Graham
Engineering") commenced this action against defendant
William Kramer ("Kramer"), as well as six related
actions against defendants Eric Adair, Doug Johnson, Jeff
Lawton, Michael Perri, Daniel Schilke, and Kevin Slusarz
(collectively, "defendants"), pursuant to the
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, and
state law. (Doc. 45). Before the court is Graham
Engineering's motion to strike portions of Kramer's
answer (Doc. 53) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(f). (Doc. 55). The court will grant Graham
Factual Background & Procedural History
Engineering is a Pennsylvania corporation that offers,
inter alia, design and development expertise for
plastic products. (Doc. 45 ¶¶ 2, 14). On January 1,
2016, Graham Engineering acquired American Kuhne, Inc.
("American Kuhne"), a Delaware corporation that
employed defendants. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 17, 22,
24). As part of the acquisition, Graham Engineering acquired
ownership of defendants' employment and confidentiality
agreements with American Kuhne. (Id. ¶¶
26-28). Graham Engineering contends that defendants violated
these agreements by accessing and retaining Graham
Engineering's confidential information without
permission. (See id. ¶¶ 43, 55, 79, 92,
109, 135, 155-56). Graham Engineering further avers that
defendants utilized this information to form U.S. Extruders,
a competitor incorporated in Rhode Island. (See id.
¶¶ 158, 187, 194).
Engineering commenced the instant action on December 21,
2016, (Doc. 1), subsequently filing an amended complaint
(Doc. 23) on March 31, 2017, and a second amended complaint
(Doc. 45) on October 17, 2017. Kramer filed his answer on
November 21, 2017. (Doc. 53). In response to fifteen separate
allegations in the second amended complaint, Kramer responds
The allegations in this paragraph appear to purport to
characterize a document, the contents of which speak for
themselves, and to which no responsive pleading is required.
By way of further response, the allegations in this paragraph
appear to characterize a document which Plaintiff accessed
from Defendants without authorization and in violation of its
statutory and common law legal obligations. To the extent a
response is required, Defendant denies the allegations in
this paragraph. Defendant denies that Defendants engaged in
any unlawful conduct.
(Id., ¶¶ 168-70, 172-74, 176-82, 185-86).
Graham Engineering moves to strike these fifteen responses
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). (Doc. 55).
The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), the court may strike
from a pleading "an insufficient defense or any
redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). District courts have
"considerable discretion" in resolving a Rule 12(f)
motion. Krisa v. Equitable Life Assurance
Soc'y, 109 F.Supp.2d 316, 319 (M.D. Pa. 2000)
(quoting N. Penn. Transfer, Inc. v. VictaulicCo. of
Am., 859 F.Supp. 154, 158 (E.D. Pa. 1994)). In general,
such a motion will be denied unless the allegations are
severely prejudicial to one of the parties and unrelated to
the plaintiff's claims. Id.; see also
5C CHARLES Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice &
Procedure § 1382 (3d ed. 2016). A party is prejudiced
when the challenged pleading "confuses the issues"
or places an undue burden on the responding party. Karpov
v. Karpov, 307 F.R.D. 345, 348 (D. Del. 2015).
Engineering contends that Kramer's fifteen responses to
the second amended complaint, set forth supra,
should be stricken for failure to conform to Rule 8 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 56 at 2, 9, 11).
Specifically, Graham Engineering argues that the responses
are "inappropriate" because they fail to apprise
Graham Engineering as to whether Kramer admits or denies the
allegations. (Id. at 11).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a party responding
to a pleading to "admit or deny the allegations asserted
against it." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b). A party's denial
must "fairly respond to the substance of the
allegation." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(2). If the party denies
only part of an allegation, the denial must specifically
designate what is denied and what is admitted. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(f) motion to strike may be used to address an improperly
pleaded answer under Rule 8(b). See Sinclair Cattle Co.,
Inc. v. Ward, No. 1:14-CV-1144, 2015 WL 6125260, at *2
(M.D. Pa. Oct. 16, 2015) (Conner, C. J.). A motion to
strike's purpose is to "clean up the pleadings,
streamline litigation, and avoid unnecessary forays into
immaterial matters." Mclnernev v. Mover Lumber &
Hardware, Inc., 244 F.Supp.2d 393, 402 (E.D. Pa. 2002)
(citing Garlanger v. Verbeke, 223 F.Supp.2d 596, 609
(D.N.J. 2002)). A defendant should respond to a complaint in
such a way that a plaintiff will not be burdened with
"ferret[ing] out a straightforward answer." See
Sinclair Cattle Co., 2015 WL 6125260, at *3.
bare assertion that a document speaks for itself and that
"no responsive pleading is required" falls short of
the requirements of Rule 8(b)-even when followed by a general
denial. See In re Richner, No. 5-12-BK-2881, 2018 WL
1165759, at *2-3 (Bankr. M.D. Pa. Mar. 1, 2018) (citing
Kegerise v. Susquehanna Twp. Sch. Dist, 321 F.R.D.
121, 124 (M.D. Pa. 2016)); see also Do It Best Corp. v.
Heinen Hardware LLC, No. 1:13-CV-69, 2013 WL 3421924, at
*5-6 (N.D. Ind. Jul. 8 2013). Further, the response that a
document speaks for itself is generally deemed an admission
that the contents of a document are what they are purported
to be. See Charleston v. Salon Secrets ...