United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
RAYMOND A. BRILEY, Plaintiff,
JULIE LAWSON, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael G. Gotsch Sr. United States Magistrate Judge.
A. Briley, a prisoner without a lawyer, has filed a motion to
strike the defendants' affirmative defenses. Rule 12(f)
states that the Court “may strike from a pleading an
insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f);
see Delta Consulting Grp., Inc. v. R. Randle Constr.,
Inc., 554 F.3d 1133, 1141 (7th Cir. 2009). Motions to
strike are generally disfavored because they consume scarce
judicial resources, Custom Vehicles, Inc. v. Forest
River, Inc., 464 F.3d 725, 727 (7th Cir. 2006), and
“potentially serve only to delay, ” Heller
Fin., Inc. v. Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294
(7th Cir. 1989) (citation omitted). However, “where . .
. motions to strike remove unnecessary clutter from the case,
they serve to expedite, not delay.” Id.
defenses will be stricken only when they are insufficient on
the face of the pleadings.” Id. (citation
omitted); see also Williams v. Jader Fuel, 944 F.2d
1388, 1400 (7th Cir. 1991). “Ordinarily, defenses will
not be struck if they are sufficient as a matter of law or if
they present questions of law or fact.” Heller
Fin., Inc., 883 F.2d at 1294 (citation omitted).
“Affirmative defenses are pleadings and, therefore, are
subject to all pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure.” Id. (citation omitted).
“Thus, defenses must set forth a ‘short and plain
statement, ' Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), of the defense.”
Id. (citation omitted).
proceeds against four individual defendants, seeking money
damages, for denying him medical treatment for a
slip-and-fall and for retaliation against him by denying him
medical treatment, placing him on suicide watch, and issuing
disciplinary reports. ECF 14. In response, the defendants
have asserted the following affirmative defenses:
1. Plaintiff's Complaint failed to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.
2. For any force that was used, Defendants used only an
objectively reasonable amount of force necessary to protect
the safety of Defendants, Plaintiff and others, and to
effectuate compliance by Plaintiff.
3. Defendants are entitled to immunity and/or qualified
immunity for all and/or a portion of the claims asserted.
4. Plaintiff has failed to mitigate his damages.
ECF 23 at 9-10. The first asserted defense provides no notice
as to why the defendants believe that the complaint does not
state a claim and does not comply with the pleading
requirements of Rule 8. The defendants concede that the
second asserted defense does not relate to Briley's
claims. ECF 29 at 3. Therefore, the motion to strike is
granted with respect to these defenses.
argues that the amended answer should be stricken because the
defendants failed to seek leave of court before filing an
amended answer. “A party may amend its pleading once as
a matter of course within 21 days after serving it.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). The defendants filed their initial
answer on March 27, 2018, and amended the answer fifteen days
later on April 12, 2018. ECF 21, 23. Therefore, leave of
court was not required for the defendants to amend the
answer, and the court will not strike the answer on this
further argues that the affirmative defenses should be
stricken because the defendants failed to provide a factual
basis to support them. “The Seventh Circuit Court of
Appeals has not yet decided whether the pleading standard for
a complaint set forth in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (2009), applies to all Rule 8 pleadings, including
affirmative defenses.” Husainy v. Allied Collection
Serv., Inc., 2016 WL 1604825, at *1 (N.D. Ind. 2016).
For the reasons set forth by Magistrate Judge Paul R. Cherry
in Cottle v. Falcon Holdings Management, LLC, 2012
WL 266968, at *1-3 (N.D. Ind. 2012), this Court agrees with
those cases that decline to apply the
“plausibility” standard of Iqbal and
Twombly to affirmative defenses. Stated otherwise,
the defendants are not required to provide a factual basis to
assert an affirmative defense.
Briley argues that the affirmative defenses of qualified
immunity and failure to mitigate damages should be stricken
because they do not apply to his claims. Though these
affirmative defenses ultimately may not apply to this case,
further factual development is required to make this
determination, and they are sufficient to survive the
pleading stage. Therefore, the motion to strike will be
denied with respect to these affirmative defenses.
these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion strike (ECF