Muhammad v. Bethel-Muhammad et al
Order re: 121 Notice To The Court Regarding Paul Russell Vaughn's Brief in Response To Court's Order To Reply By June 11, 2012 filed by Kalim A.R. Muhammad. The reply to Russell's answer, styled as a notice to the Court, is STRICKEN. Signed by Chief Judge William H. Steele on 6/19/2012. Copy mailed to Plaintiff, Paul Vaughn Russell & Brenda Bethel-Muhammad. (tgw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
KALIM A.R. MUHAMMAD, etc.,
) CIVIL ACTION 11-0690-WS-B
BRENDA BETHEL-MUHAMMAD, et al.,)
After his motion to dismiss was denied, (Doc. 107 at 21), defendant Paul Vaughan
Russell filed an answer to the amended complaint. (Doc. 114). That pleading sets forth
eight defenses, the second of which is a response to the various paragraphs of the
amended complaint, with the other defenses being either affirmative defenses or other
defensive material. The answer asserts no counterclaim or other claim for relief against
The plaintiff has now filed a “notice to the Court regarding Paul Russell Vaughn’s
brief in response to Court’s order to reply by June 11, 2012.” (Doc. 121). The “brief” to
which the plaintiff refers is Russell’s answer. The plaintiff’s filing is thus a reply to
“Absent a counterclaim denominated as such, a reply to an answer ordinarily is
unnecessary and improper in federal practice.” 5 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1185 at 27 (3rd ed. 2004) (“Wright & Miller”). A reply
to an answer not containing a counterclaim may be filed only “if the court orders one.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(a)(7). Because the Court has not ordered the plaintiff to file a reply to
Russell’s answer, the plaintiff’s reply is improper.
Nor would the Court permit a reply to Russell’s answer were one requested. “A
substantial reason must be given or necessity must be demonstrated by the movant to
justify the court ordering a reply to an answer.” Wright & Miller, § 1185 at 31. “This
standard has proven difficult to satisfy ….” Id. Efforts by the plaintiff, rather than the
defendant, to justify a reply to an answer are especially suspect, because “the reply in the
former context is much more likely to be self-serving and not based on any legitimate
need than in the latter context.” Id. at 34. The plaintiff’s reply falls squarely within this
For the reasons set forth above, the plaintiff’s reply to Russell’s answer, styled as a
notice to the Court, is stricken.
DONE and ORDERED this 19th day of June, 2012.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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