STARNES v. COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF BUTLER COUNTY PA. et al
ORDER. For the reasons set forth in the attached Order, Defendant's Motion to Strike (Doc. 27 ) is DENIED. Signed by Judge Cathy Bissoon on 2/8/18. (kg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF
BUTLER COUNTY PA, et al.,
Civil Action No. 17-1304
Judge Cathy Bissoon
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO STRIKE
Defendant Thomas Doerr (“Defendant” or “Doerr”) has moved to strike Paragraphs 1317, 21-27, 34, 84, 85, 87, 90, and 91 of the Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(f)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 27). The averments in question concern
allegations related to a sexual relationship between Doerr and Plaintiff that began in December
2004. Defendant contends that these averments are untrue, impertinent to Plaintiff’s claims and
scandalous in nature.
Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a district court to “strike from
a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” FED. R. CIV. P. 12(f). Courts have “‘considerable discretion in disposing of a motion to
strike under Rule 12(f).’” Cottillion v. United Ref. Co., 2014 WL 1207527, at *3 (W.D. Pa.
Mar. 24, 2014) (quoting Dela Cruz v. Piccari Press, 521 F. Supp. 2d 424, 428 (E.D. Pa. 2007)).
As a general matter, however, motions to strike are disfavored, United States v. 0.28 Acre of
Land, More or Less, Situate in Washington Cty., Penn., 2009 WL 4408194, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Nov.
25, 2009) (citation omitted), and should be granted “only when ‘the allegations have no possible
relation to the controversy and may cause prejudice to one of the parties, or if the allegations
confuse the issues.’” Allied Dental Grp., Ltd. v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 2013 WL
5436948, at *3 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 27, 2013) (quoting Medevac MidAtlantic v. Keystone Mercy
Health Plan, 817 F. Supp. 2d 515, 520 (E.D. Pa. 2011)). “Indeed, striking a pleading is a drastic
remedy to be resorted to only when required for the purposes of justice and should be used
sparingly.” Spiess v. Pocono Mountain Reg’l Police Dep’t, 2011 WL 662977, at *1 (M.D. Pa.
Feb. 14, 2011) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
In light of the generally disfavored status of motions to strike, Defendant’s motion to
strike will be denied. The Court finds that the challenged averments are arguably relevant to,
among other things, Plaintiff’s claim that her interactions with Doerr after ending their sexual
relationship created a hostile work environment and violated her First Amendment right to free
association. To the extent the challenged allegations are potentially prejudicial and/or likely to
confuse a fact-finder, the Court will have the ability to address these concerns through
appropriate pretrial orders and/or careful jury selection, if the action proceeds to that stage.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
February 8, 2018
United States District Judge
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