United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. DINSMORE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Strike
Insufficient Defenses, filed by Plaintiff, United
States. [Dkt. 14.] Plaintiff asserted
Defendant's four affirmative defenses were
“insufficient” and asked the Court to strike the
defenses. [Dkt. 16.] Defendant disagreed, arguing
that Plaintiff has not met the legal standard for a motion to
strike because (1) the affirmative defenses alleged are
related to the controversy and (2) the United States has not
alleged prejudice. On April 11, 2019, District Court Judge
Sarah Evans Barker designated the undersigned Magistrate
Judge to issue a report and recommendation pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). [Dkt. 15.] For the
reasons set forth below, the Magistrate Judge recommends
Plaintiff's Motion to Strike be
an action to revoke naturalized citizenship under 8 U.S.C.
§ 1451(a). Plaintiff filed a Complaint on
December 10, 2018. [Dkt. 1.] Defendant filed his
Answer on March 8, 2019, asserting four affirmative
defenses. [Dkt. 6.] Plaintiff now challenges the
sufficiency of Defendant's affirmative defenses with this
motion to strike. Defendant filed a Response to USA's
Motion to Strike on April 12, 2019. [Dkt. 16.]
Plaintiff did not reply to Defendant's response.
“may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or
any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). “Motions asserted
under Rule 12(f) are ordinarily not granted unless the
language in the pleading at issue has no possible relation to
the controversy and is clearly prejudicial.” Olayan
v. Holder, 833 F.Supp.2d 1052, 1058 (S.D. Ind. 2011)
(internal citation omitted). Additionally, “a motion to
strike is not a favored motion, as it proposes a drastic
remedy.” United States v. Walerko Tool &
Eng'g Corp., 784 F.Supp. 1385, 1387 (N.D. Ind.
1992). A court may strike defenses that are
“insufficient on the face of the pleadings, ”
that fail “as a matter of law, ” or that are
“legally insufficient.” Heller Fin., Inc. v.
Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir. 1989).
District courts have considerable discretion in ruling on
motions to strike. See Delta Consulting Grp.,
Inc. v. R. Randle Const., Inc., 554 F.3d 1133, 1141 (7th
argued that Defendant's affirmative defenses should be
stricken based on the validity and the merits of the
defenses. However, Plaintiff disregarded the legal standard
set out in its own motion that a motion to strike is
appropriate when (1) “the language in the pleading at
issue has no possible relation to the controversy” and
(2) is “clearly prejudicial.” Olayan,
833 F.Supp.2d at 1058 (internal citation omitted).
all four affirmative defenses alleged by the Defendant relate
to the controversy at issue. Defendant alleged four
affirmative defenses: (1) the claims in the
Complaint should be “precluded under the
doctrines of estoppel and laches”, (2) the alleged
false statements were not made knowingly or with intent of
deceit in order to obtain an immigration benefit or
naturalization, (3) “Defendant provided no testimony of
any kind to any government authority during the five-year
period before his application for naturalization”, and
(4) “[e]ven with full knowledge of the alleged false
statements made by Defendant, both Lawful Permanent Resident
Status and Naturalization would have been granted.”
[Dkt. 6. at 23.] The Court finds that each of the
alleged affirmative defenses go to the heart of the
controversy and relate to the issue of proving eligibility
for citizenship. As a result, Plaintiff failed to meet the
first element necessary to strike a defense.
Plaintiff did not discuss or demonstrate that the government
will be prejudiced if Defendant's affirmative defenses
stood. Mere redundancy or immateriality is not enough to
trigger the drastic measure of striking the pleading or parts
thereof; in addition, the pleading must be prejudicial.
See Talbot v. Robert Matthews Distrib. Co.,
961 F.2d 654, 664 (7th Cir. 1992). Prejudice occurs when the
challenged pleading or allegation confuses the issues or is
so lengthy and complex that it places an undue burden on the
responding party. See Hoffman-Dombrowski v.
Arlington Int'l Racecourse, Inc., 11 F.Supp.2d 1006,
1009 (N.D. Ill. 1998). Importantly, Defendant addressed the
issue of the government failing to allege prejudice in
Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion to
Strike, but Plaintiff failed to reply. Further, as
Plaintiff articulated and as is established in Walerko
Tool & Eng'g Corp., a motion to strike is a
“drastic remedy.” 784 F.Supp. at 1387.
Consequently, Plaintiff did not demonstrate prejudice.
both essential elements to strike a defense are missing in
this case. Defendant's alleged affirmative defenses
relate to the controversy and the defenses will not prejudice
Plaintiff. The Court is not addressing the validity of the
alleged affirmative defenses or whether the affirmative
defenses will succeed on the merits. Instead, this Court
finds that Plaintiff s motion does not meet the standard to
strike an affirmative defense. The Court acknowledges that
whether the asserted defenses are legally sufficient or are
supported by evidence and raise a genuine issue of material
fact for trial, or whether the Defendant will ultimately
prevail in the action, are separate questions not properly
decided under the vehicle of a motion to strike. The issues
of validity and the merits of affirmative defenses should be
handled in the normal litigation process and not with a
motion to strike.
on the foregoing, the Magistrate Judge recommends the Court
DENY Plaintiffs Motion to Strike. [Dkt.
14.] Any objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report
and Recommendation shall be filed with the Clerk in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b), and failure to timely file objections within
fourteen days after ...