United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
TASHIANNE WILBURN et al., and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY JUVENILE JUSTICE CENTER et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. United States Magistrate Judge
are two motions before the Court. On June 1, 2018,
Plaintiffs, Tashianne Wilburn and Quanan Wilburn, the natural
parents and guardians of Z.W., a minor child, filed a motion
to strike Defendants' fourth and sixth affirmative
defenses pursuant to Rule 12(f). On June 6, 2018, Plaintiffs
filed a motion to strike Defendants' jury demand. On June
13, 2018, Defendants, Cynthia Nelson, in her official
capacity as the Executive Director of the St. Joseph County
Juvenile Justice Center (“JJC”), the Board of
County Commissioners of St. Joseph County, and the St. Joseph
County Council, filed their responses to both motions. Both
motions are now ripe and for the reasons discussed below, the
Court GRANTS the Wilburns' motion to
strike affirmative defenses and Defendants' jury demand.
Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses Based on
A. Relevant Background The Wilburns proceed
against Defendants at the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice
Center (“JJC”) seeking money damages for the
solitary confinement of their minor child, Z.W., and
declaratory and injunctive relief for all similarly situated
juvenile detainees. [DE 12 at 2]. In response, the
Defendants asserted inter alia the following
4. Judicial immunity applies to all allegations which are
directed at the function of the St. Joseph Probate Court.
6. Certain allegations of the complaint violate the Eleventh
Amendment of the United States.
[DE 19 at 30].
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).
Rule 12(f) authorizes the court to strike a pleading or part
of a pleading “on its own; or on motion made by a party
either before responding to the pleading or, if a response is
not allowed, within 21 days after being served with the
pleading.” The Wilburns' motion to strike is timely
and the Court addresses the merits of the motion below.
to strike are generally disfavored because they
“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).
Judicial Immunity Defense
Wilburns argue that the defense of judicial immunity should
be stricken because they are suing Defendants only in their
official capacities. [DE 21 at 3]. The assertion
that this is solely an official capacity suit is unopposed by
the Defendants. “The only immunities available in an
official capacity suit are those that may be asserted by the
governmental entity itself (e.g., Eleventh Amendment
immunity or sovereign immunity).” DeVito v. Chicago
Park Dist., 83 F.3d 878, 881 (7th Cir. 1996) (rejecting
the contention that a personnel board was a
“quasijudicial body” when board members were only
sued in their official capacities); see also
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 167. The Wilburns
are not suing defendants in their individual capacities.
Thus, the Defendants' fourth affirmative defense of
judicial immunity is insufficient as a matter of law and
should be stricken pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).