Defendant filed an answer to Plaintiff’s breach of contract complaint and asserted affirmative defenses. Plaintiff moved to strike and dismiss the affirmative defenses as insufficient for pleading purposes and to strike portions of the answer.
Although motions to strike are generally disfavored, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), which provides for the court to strike insufficient, redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous matter, can be useful for removing unnecessary clutter from a case.
Plaintiff filed a breach of contract complaint against Defendant in federal district court. (Jurisdiction was based on diversity). Defendant answered the complaint and asserted affirmative defenses. Plaintiff moved to strike and dismiss affirmative defenses as insufficient for pleading purposes. Plaintiff also moved to strike portions of the answer.
Were the affirmative defenses and portions of the answer that Plaintiff’s motion sought to strike sufficient for pleading purposes?
No. Defendant’s first, second, third, fourth and fifth affirmative defenses were stricken without prejudice for failing to satisfy Rule 8(a), 8(c), and 9, the sixth affirmative defense, which sought to preserve additional affirmative defenses as they became known through discovery, was stricken with prejudice as an improper affirmative defense. Challenged portions of the answer were stricken without prejudice for failing to satisfy Rule 8(b).
Affirmative defenses must comply with Rule 8(a). To determine if an affirmative defense is sufficient, the court looks to whether it is (1) appropriately pled as an affirmative defense; (2) comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 9; (3) be evaluated under a standards identical to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Answers must comply with Rule 8(b); language included in Defendant’s denials in the answer was equivocal and confused the issues in dispute.