Broadcast Music, Inc. et al v. Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC et al
ORDER: Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike 14 is GRANTED. Defendants' Answer 13 is STRICKEN. Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin has 30 days from the date of this Order to file a response to the Complaint that comports with the Local Rules and F ederal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC has 30 days from the date of this Order to obtain counsel to file a response to the Complaint. If it does not, the Court will enter a default against Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC. Signed by Judge James S. Moody, Jr. on 5/1/2017. (LN)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
BROADCAST MUSIC, INC., WELSH
WITCH MUSIC, FOREIGN IMPORTED
PRODUCTIONS AND PUBLISHING
INC., RICK’S MUSIC, INC., RED SEA
SONGS, SONY/ATV SONGS, LLC, R
AND R NOMAD PUBLISHING
ENTERTAINMENT INC. and THE
Case No: 5:17-cv-154-Oc-30PRL
LEIGH ANN PIPPIN, LLC and
LEIGH ANN PIPPIN,
THIS CAUSE comes before the Court on Plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike (Doc. 14)
Defendants' Answer (Doc. 13). Defendants failed to respond to the Motion, and the Court
ordered the Defendants to show cause why the Court should not consider the Motion
without a response from Defendants. Defendants responded to the Order to show cause on
April 27, 2017 (Doc. 18), but did not respond to Plaintiffs’ Motion. Having considered the
Motion, Defendants’ response to the Order to Show Cause, and the relevant law, the Court
concludes Plaintiffs’ Motion should be granted.
Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin is the managing member of Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC,
which operates 1884 Restaurant and Bar in Eustis, Florida. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants
have been in repeated violation of the Copyright Act for not buying the necessary licenses
to play music from Plaintiff “BMI’s Repertoire.” (Doc. 1, ¶3). After allegedly reaching out
to Defendants more than 75 times and sending cease and desist notices, Plaintiffs allege
they were forced to bring this lawsuit for multiple claims of willful copyright infringement.
Plaintiffs sued Defendants on February 13, 2017, for eight claims of copyright
infringement in a single-count Complaint (Doc. 1). Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin,
proceeding pro se, filed an Answer (Doc. 13) on March 17, 2017, on behalf of herself and
Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC. The Answer is one page and fails to respond to the individual
allegations in the Complaint. The Answer places the blame for the alleged copyright
infringement on independent contractors Defendants hired, and generally denies having
committed any violations. Plaintiffs now argue the Answer must be stricken for two
reasons, and the Court agrees with both.
First, Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC is not permitted to proceed without
counsel. Palazzo v. Gulf Oil Corp., 764 F.2d 1381, 1385 (11th Cir. 1985); Energy Lighting
Mgmt., LLC v. Kinder, 363 F.Supp.2d 1331, 1332 (M.D.Fla.2005); FTC v. RCA Credit
Servs., LLC, 2010 WL 2927688, at *1 n. 4 (M.D.Fla. July 21, 2010). The Court explained
this in its Order to Show Cause, and Defendants’ only response was that it cannot afford
counsel. While the Court is sympathetic to the position in which this places Defendant, the
Court cannot re-write the law to allow an LLC to defend an action unrepresented by
counsel. So the Answer must be stricken as to Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC.
Second, the Answer must also be stricken as to Leigh Ann Pippin individually
because it fails to comport with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure provide that “[t]he court may strike from a pleading an insufficient
defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(f). While pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard and are to be liberally
construed, Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998); litigants
appearing pro se must adhere to the procedural requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure as well as the Local Rules for the Middle District of Florida. McNeil v. United
States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
Defendants’ Answer fails to comport with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and
10. Rule 8 provides as follows:
(b) Defenses; Admissions and Denials.
(1) In General. In responding to a pleading, a party must:
(A) state in short and plain terms its defenses to each claim
asserted against it; and
(B) admit or deny the allegations asserted against it by an
(3) General and Specific Denials. A party that intends in good faith to
deny all the allegations of a pleading--including the jurisdictional
grounds--may do so by a general denial. A party that does not intend
to deny all the allegations must either specifically deny designated
allegations or generally deny all except those specifically admitted.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b). Defendants’ Answer fails to comply with Rule 8 because it does not
respond to the individual allegations in each paragraph of the Complaint, and it is clear that
Defendants are not denying all of the allegations of the Complaint.
Rule 10 provides as follows:
(b) Paragraphs; Separate Statements. A party must state its claims or
defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a
single set of circumstances. A later pleading may refer by number to a
paragraph in an earlier pleading. If doing so would promote clarity, each
claim founded on a separate transaction or occurrence--and each defense
other than a denial--must be stated in a separate count or defense.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b). Defendants’ Answer does not comply with Rule 10 because it fails
to separate its defenses into separate paragraphs to which Plaintiffs can respond.
For the reasons discussed above, the Court concludes the Answer must be stricken.
The Court will give Defendants 30 days to file a proper response to the Complaint. Failure
to comply with the rules again could result in the Court striking the Answer a second time
and entering a default against Defendants. 1 Kennedy v. Bell S. Telecommunications, Inc.
(AT&T), 546 F. App'x 817, 820 (11th Cir. 2013). The Court again notes that Defendant
Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC must obtain counsel if it intends to defend this action. If Defendant
Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC does not obtain counsel within 30 days, the Court will enter a
default against it.
Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin is encouraged to visit the Middle District of Florida website
for more information about proceeding without a lawyer at the following address:
It is therefore ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that:
Plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike (Doc. 14) is GRANTED.
Defendants’ Answer (Doc. 13) is STRICKEN.
Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin has 30 days from the date of this Order to file
a response to the Complaint that comports with the Local Rules and Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure.
Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC has 30 days from the date of this Order
to obtain counsel to file a response to the Complaint. If it does not, the Court
will enter a default against Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC.
DONE and ORDERED in Tampa, Florida, this 1st day of May, 2017.
Copies furnished to:
Counsel/Parties of Record
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?