Oswalt v. Rekeweg et al
OPINION AND ORDER denying 28 Motion to Strike. Defendants Adams County Sheriff's Department, Karen Douglas, Nicholas Engle, Annie Habegger, Daniel Hunter, Austin McCord, James Miller, Logan Penrod, Shane Rekeweg and Nicholas Yoder are GRANTED leave to file an amended answer, if necessary, on or before 11/15/2017. Signed by Magistrate Judge Susan L Collins on 11/7/17. (nal)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
FORT WAYNE DIVISION
JASON OSWALT, as Special Administrator of
the estate of Jeremy Oswalt, Deceased,
SHANE REKEWEG, individually and in his
official capacity as Sheriff of Adams County,
) CASE NO. 1:17-cv-00278-TLS-SLC
OPINION AND ORDER
Before the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Strike Portion of Plaintiff’s Complaint (DE
28), filed by Defendants on October 3, 2017, seeking to strike the three-page introduction
entitled “Statement of the Case” in Plaintiff’s complaint. Plaintiff filed a response brief in
opposition to the motion on October 13, 2017. (DE 29). Defendants have not filed a reply brief,
and their time to do so has now passed. N.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1(d)(2)(B). Thus, the motion is ripe for
For the following reasons, the motion to strike will be DENIED.
A. Applicable Legal Standard
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) states that the Court “may strike from a pleading
an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.”
“Generally speaking, motions to strike portions of pleadings are disfavored as they consume
scarce judicial resources and may be used for dilatory purposes.” Silicon Graphics, Inc. v. ATI
Techs. ULC, No. 06-C-611-C, 2007 WL 5312633, at *1 (W.D. Wis. Mar. 12, 2007) (citing
Custom Vehicles, Inc. v. Forest River, Inc., 464 F.3d 725, 727 (7th Cir. 2006); Heller Fin., Inc.
v. Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir. 1989)). However, “a motion that seeks
to remove unnecessary clutter serves not to delay, but rather to expedite.” Abayneh v. Zuelch,
No. 2:10-CV-415 RLM-RCB, 2011 WL 572407, at *1 (N.D. Ind. 2011) (citing Heller Fin., Inc.,
883 F.2d at 1294).
Motions to strike pleadings “will generally be denied unless the portion of the pleading
at issue is prejudicial.” U.S. Liab. Ins. Co. v. Bryant, No. 3:10-cv-129, 2011 WL 221662, at *1
(S.D. Ill. Jan. 21, 2011) (citing Heller Fin., Inc., 883 F.2d at 1294; Tektel, Inc. v. Maier, 813 F.
Supp. 1331, 1334 (N.D. Ill. 1992)). The decision whether to strike material under Rule 12(f) is
within the discretion of the district court. Delta Consulting Grp., Inc. v. R. Randle Constr., Inc.,
554 F.3d 1133, 1141 (7th Cir. 2009); Talbot v. Robert Matthews Distrib. Co., 961 F.2d 654, 665
(7th Cir. 1992).
Defendants seek to strike the three-page introduction entitled “Statement of the Case” in
Plaintiff’s 19-page complaint. (DE 1 at 2-4). The first page of the Statement of the Case
describes a purported “epidemic” of individuals with serious mental health illnesses detained in
county jails who allegedly receive poor treatment or no treatment at all. The remaining two
pages describe, in narrative, Plaintiff’s view of his case, essentially summarizing and repeating
much of the numbered allegations set forth in the body of the complaint. Defendants observe
that the Statement of the Case is “literally from the press release Plaintiff’s counsel prepared and
concurrently submitted to various media outlets in northeastern Indiana.” (DE 28 at 2 (citing DE
28-1)). Defendants assert that the Statement of the Case is “at best improper argument and at
worst a clear attempt to ‘poison the well[,]’” and that either way, this portion should be stricken
as “immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous.” (DE 28 ¶ 5).
Plaintiff disputes Defendants’ characterization of the Statement of the Case. Plaintiff
contends that the Statement of the Case “provides relevant background information and context
for the remaining allegations contained within Plaintiff’s [c]omplaint.” (DE 29 at 2). Plaintiff
also challenges Defendants’ failure to point out what statements or sentences in particular within
the Statement of the Case should be stricken, contending that Defendants’ motion conclusorily
seeks to strike the entire Statement of the Case. As such, Plaintiff urges that the motion to strike
should be summarily denied.
“[A] preliminary statement is generally unnecessary and improper in the context of a
defendant’s answer to a complaint.” Ramos v. Playtex Prods., Inc., Nos. 08 CV 2703, 08 CV
2828, 08 CV 3352, 2008 WL 4066250, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2008). However, as already
explained, a motion to strike a portion of a pleading will generally be denied unless the portion
is prejudicial. U.S. Liab. Ins. Co., 2011 WL 221662, at *1 (citing Heller Fin., Inc., 883 F.2d at
1294; Tektel, Inc., 813 F. Supp. at 1334). The Court agrees that the Statement of the Case in this
instance is unnecessary. The first page concerning the alleged national problem relating to the
lack of mental health treatment in county jails appears argumentative and rather immaterial to
the allegations at issue, and the remaining two pages summarizing Plaintiff’s view of the case
are redundant with respect to the numbered allegations of the complaint.
Nevertheless, Defendants do not explain any way in which they would be prejudiced if
the Statement of the Case remains in the complaint. Defendants’ failure to describe, with
particularity, how it would be prejudiced by the Statement of Case is fatal to their motion to
strike. See, e.g., Ware v. Hosp. of the Univ. of Pa., No. 2:14-cv-00014, 2015 WL 5729243, at *4
(E.D. Pa. Sept. 30, 2015) (denying defendants’ motion to strike the introduction section of
plaintiff’s complaint due to defendants’ inability to point to any risk of confusion or prejudice
from the introduction section); Mark Andy, Inc. v. Cartonmaster Int’l (2012), Inc., No. 4:14-CV986-SPM, 2014 WL 7140630, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 12, 2014) (“[T]he Court does not find that . .
. redundancy alone warrants striking the Introduction in absence of some prejudice to
Defendants.”); Fox v. Will Cty., No. 04 C 7309, 2011 WL 6206238, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 7,
2011) (denying motion to strike portions of plaintiff’s complaint where defendant failed to
explain precisely why plaintiff’s allegations are “unduly prejudicial” (citing Davis v. Ruby
Foods, 269 F.3d 818, 821 (7th Cir. 2001))); Ind. Ins. Co. v. Westfield Ins. Co., No. 10 C 2660,
2010 WL 3404971, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 26, 2010) (same); see also Lahr v. Brigadoon Fin., Inc.,
No. 1:15-cv-00106-JD-SLC, 2015 WL 5286790, at *2 (N.D. Ind. Sept. 9, 2015) (denying
plaintiff’s motion to strike a preliminary statement included in defendant’s answer where no
prejudice was shown).
In sum, because Defendants failed to explain with specificity how they would be
prejudiced by the Statement of the Case portion in Plaintiff’s complaint, and because motions to
strike are generally disfavored, see Custom Vehicles, Inc., 464 F.3d at 727, Defendants’ motion
to strike will be DENIED.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendants’ motion to strike (DE 28) is DENIED.
Defendants are GRANTED leave to file an amended answer, if necessary, on or before
November 15, 2017.
Entered this 7th day of November 2017.
/s/ Susan Collins
United States Magistrate Judge
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