United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
MICHAEL WILSON and BETTY WILSON DAVIS, as guardian over the Estate and Person of Michael Wilson, Plaintiffs,
MOHAMMAD ZEESHAN TARIQ and KAHKASHAN TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendants, MOHAMMAD ZEESHAN TARIQ and KAHKASHAN TRANSPORTATION, INC., Counter-Claimants,
MICHAEL WILSON, Counter-Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER
E. MARTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to
Strike [DE 24], filed by Plaintiffs on May 3, 2016.
Plaintiffs ask that the Court strike from Defendants'
Answer [DE 23] three affirmative defenses. On May 16, 2016,
Defendants filed a response [DE 27], and on May 23, 2016,
Plaintiffs filed their reply [DE 28].
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that a “court
may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any
redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). Motions to strike are
generally disfavored, but when striking portions of a
pleading “remove[s] unnecessary clutter from the case,
” the motion may “serve to expedite, not
delay.” Heller v. Midwhey Powder Co., Inc.,
883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir. 1989). Ultimately, whether to
strike material under Rule 12(f) is within the sound
discretion of the Court. Talbot v. Robert Matthews
Distrib. Co., 961 F.2d 654, 665 (7th Cir. 1992).
Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff Michael Wilson
(“Michael”) was injured when his car collided
with a semi-truck owned and operated by Defendants.
Defendants assert twelve affirmative defenses, three of which
are the subject of Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike.
Third Affirmative Defense
their third affirmative defense, Defendants allege that
Michael's injuries were caused by an inoperable air bag,
and that Hyundai Corporation, as the “designer and
manufacturer” of Michael's car, was responsible for
his injuries. Plaintiffs argue that Defendants are barred
from asserting this nonparty defense under Indiana's
Comparative Fault Act.
the Comparative Fault Act, a defendant “in an action
based on fault . . . may assert as a defense that the damages
of the claimant were caused in full or in part by a
nonparty.” Ind. Code § 34-51-2-14. For the
purposes of the Act, “nonparty” is defined as
“a person who caused or contributed to cause the
alleged injury, death, or damage to property but who has not
been joined in the action as a defendant.” Ind. Code
Comparative Fault Act contains multiple limitations on how
and when a defendant may assert a nonparty defense. Under
§ 34-51-2-16, a “nonparty defense that is known by
the defendant when the defendant files the defendant's
first answer shall be pleaded as a part of the first
answer.” But where a defendant “gains actual
knowledge of a nonparty defense after the filing of an
answer, ” that defendant “may plead the defense
with reasonable promptness.” Ind. Code §
Defendants did not include the Hyundai nonparty defense in
their first Answer. However, in a Motion to Amend [DE 15]
their original answer, Defendants represented that they did
not discover the alleged airbag defect until they conducted
discovery in this case. Ultimately, the Court denied
Defendants' Motion to Amend as moot [DE 21], since
Plaintiffs moved to amend the original complaint.
Accordingly, the Court finds that, although Defendants did
not assert the nonparty defense in their “first answer,
” they pleaded the defense with “reasonable
promptness” after “gain[ing] actual knowledge of
a nonparty defense” through discovery in this case,
satisfying the requirements of the Comparative Fault Act.
in certain situations, the Comparative Fault Act imposes
additional requirements on a defendant pleading a nonparty
defense. Section 34-51-2-16 (“Section 16”)
provides, in relevant part:
if the defendant was served with a complaint and summons more
than one hundred fifty (150) days before the expiration of
the limitation of action applicable to the claimant's
claim against the nonparty, the defendant shall plead any
nonparty defense not later than forty-five (45) days before
the expiration of that limitation of action. The trial court