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State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Riley

Citation. 199 F.R.D. 276 (N.D. Ill. 2001)
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Brief Fact Summary.

The court’s entered a memorandum opinion and order in this interpleader action sua sponte, striking Defendant’s answer with leave to replead. The opinion addressed a number of common pleading errors.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(b) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(c) set forth procedures/requirements for drafting answers and asserting affirmative defenses.


A defendant filed an answer in an interpleader action. The court, sua sponte, issued a memorandum opinion and order striking the answer, with leave to replead. The court’s opinion was issued to address a number of common pleading errors that it had noted. These errors failed to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.


Did Defendant’s answer to the interpleader complaint satisfy pleading requirements?


No. The answer was stricken, with leave to replead, because it contained pleading errors.


The court noted the common deficiencies in pleading in answers so that practitioners would be aware of them. Generally, the deficiencies involved failing to comply with unambiguous language of Rule 8(b) in drafting responses, by failing to respond to an allegation in the complaint, or by failing to admit, deny or state a lack of information sufficient to form a belief as to  the truth of an allegation. The court also noted common deficiencies in pleading affirmative defenses in accordance with Rule 8(c), such as asserting affirmative defenses that “don’t really fit that concept.”

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