Brown v. Sonoma County Land Company

Filing 14

Order by Magistrate Judge Nandor J. Vadas granting 10 Motion to Strike. Amended Answer deadline is June 28, 2017.(njvlc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/14/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 EUREKA DIVISION 7 8 JEANETTE BROWN, Case No. 17-cv-00913-NJV Plaintiff, 9 ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STRIKE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES v. 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 SONOMA COUNTY LAND COMPANY, d.b.a. EVERGREEN VILLAGE, Re: Dkt. No. 10 Defendant. Plaintiff Jeannette Brown filed a Complaint on February 22, 2017, against Defendant 14 Sonoma Land Company d.b.a. Evergreen Village as the owner/operator of the 15 subject Evergreen Village, a shopping center. (Doc. 1.). The Complaint alleged violations 16 of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and related California 17 antidiscrimination laws applicable to public accommodations. Id. Defendant filed its Answer on 18 March 28, 2017. (Doc. 8). 19 On April 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike the Affirmative Defenses from 20 Defendant's Answer pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 10.) 21 Defendant did not file a response to Plaintiff's Motion, and did not file a Notice of Non-Opposition 22 in compliance with Local Civil Rule 7-3(b). The court took the matter under submission on the 23 papers. (Doc. 11.) For the reasons explained below, the court will grant Plaintiff's Motion and 24 allow Defendant an opportunity to amend its Answer. 25 26 LEGAL STANDARDS The purpose of a Rule12(f) motion to strike is to avoid spending time and money 27 litigating spurious issues by allowing courts to dispense with those issues before trial. See 28 Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 973-74 (9th Cir. 2010); Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir.1993); accord Barnes v. AT&T Pension Benefit Plan- 2 Nonbargained Program, 718 F. Supp. 2d 1167, 1170 (N.D. Cal. 2010). Under Rule 12(f), a court 3 may strike affirmative defenses from an answer that are insufficient or contain redundant, 4 immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matters. See Barnes, 718 F.Supp.2d at 1170;, 5 Inc. v. eHelp Corp, 315 F. Supp. 2d 1046, 1048 (N.D. Cal. 2004). An affirmative defense is 6 insufficiently pled under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. 7 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v.Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) if it fails to give a 8 plaintiff fair notice of the nature of the defense and the grounds or identifiable facts that, if 9 applicable, would make the affirmative defense plausible on its face. See Wyshak v. City Nat’l 10 Bank, 607 F.2d 824, 827 (9th Cir. 1979); Barnes, 718 F. Supp. 2d at 1170-1171;, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 Inc., 315 F.Supp.2d at 1048; Hernandez v. Dutch Goose, Inc., No. 3:13-cv-03537-LB, 2013 WL 12 5781476, at *6-7 & n.2 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 2013) (Beeler, J) (noting that "it appears that every 13 judge in this district to have taken up the issue has concluded that Iqbal and Twombly apply to the 14 pleading of affirmative defenses" and citing cases). DISCUSSION 15 In this case, Defendant has alleged twenty-one affirmative defenses. (Doc. 8, at 18-22.) It 16 17 appears from Defendant's pleadings that the defenses have merely been "'add[ed] . . . to the case 18 simply upon some conjecture that [they] may somehow apply.'" Barnes, 718 F. Supp. 2d at 1172 19 (quoting Hayne v. Green Ford Sales Inc., 263 F.R.D. 647, 650 (D. Kan. 2009)). Specifically, 20 Defendant has failed to provide any facts or explain how a stated affirmative defense applies 21 against any of Plaintiff's claims. See Barnes, 718 F. Supp. 2d at 1171-73. Instead, as Plaintiff 22 argues, Defendant has merely inserted a series of conclusory and boilerplate statements asserting 23 that an affirmative defense exists without stating a reason why that defense may exist. See id. at 24 1172. No facts specific to this case are included in the affirmative defenses. This fails to give 25 Plaintiff fair notice of the nature of the defenses asserted, and is clearly insufficient under 26 standards set forth above. Because the affirmative defenses fail to meet the pleading standards for 27 civil cases prosecuted in federal court, the court will grant Plaintiff's motion. 28 // 2 1 2 Based on the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows: 1) Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses is GRANTED. All affirmative defenses 3 are STRICKEN from Defendant's Answer and will not be considered by the court. 4 2) Defendant is granted fourteen days from the date of this order within which to file an 5 Amended Answer, altered from the original Answer only as to add adequately pled 6 affirmative defenses. 7 IT IS SO ORDERED. 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Dated: June 14, 2017 ______________________________________ NANDOR J. VADAS United States Magistrate Judge 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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