United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ROBERT J. LEONARD, Plaintiff,
THE TRUSTEES OF INDIANA UNIVERSITY, INDIANA UNIVERSITY HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATES, INC. d/b/a IU HEALTH PHYSICIANS, Defendants.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE
J. DINSMORE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Strike Affirmative Defenses [Dkt. 23.]
Plaintiff seeks to strike and summarily dismiss the
University's Affirmative Defense Nos. 1 through 11 and 13
through 22, and the University's answer to paragraph 26
of Plaintiff's Complaint. Similarly, Plaintiff seeks to
strike and summarily dismiss IUHP's Affirmative Defense
Nos. 1 through 9 and 11 through 19, and IUHP's answers to
paragraphs 24 and 26 of Plaintiff's Complaint. [Dkt.
24 at 1.] Plaintiff asserts that Defendants have failed
to state a “short and plain statement” of the
defenses as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a).
[Dkt. 24 at 2.] For the reasons set forth below, the
Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN
PART Plaintiff's Motion to Strike.
an action brought by Plaintiff, Robert J. Leonard, M.D.
(“Plaintiff”) against Defendants, Indiana
University Health Care Associates, Inc. d/b/a IU Health
Physicians (“IUHP”) and the Trustees of Indiana
University (“University”) (collectively
“Defendants”), for violations of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§
2000 et seq., the Americans with Disability Act, as
amended (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101,
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701
et seq., and for breach of contract. [Dkt. 1 at
hired Plaintiff on July 1, 2017 to work as an emergency
medicine physician for IUHP and as an Assistant Professor of
Clinical Emergency Medicine for the School of Medicine.
[Dkt. 1 at 3.] Plaintiff alleges the first nine
months of his employment were smooth and uneventful; however,
the environment changed in April, 2018. [Dkt. 1 at
3.] After two meetings with Plaintiff's supervisors,
Defendants terminated his employment on September 18, 2018
for the stated reason that he had left his “scheduled
shift on August 28, 2018 three hours early and without
permission to do so.” [Dkt. 1 at 5-6.]
Plaintiff alleges his termination was pretext for unlawful
discrimination under the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, Title VII,
and breach of contract. [Dkt. 1 at 6-8.] In response
to Plaintiff's allegations, the University denied most of
Plaintiff's allegations and asserted twenty-two
affirmative defenses. [Dkt. 16 at 17-19.] IUHP also
responded to Plaintiff's complaint by denying most of the
allegations and asserting nineteen affirmative defenses.
[Dkt. 17 at 18-20.] These affirmative defenses are
at issue in Plaintiff's Motion to Strike.
“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
appropriate when they expedite matters by “remov[ing]
unnecessary clutter from the case.” Heller Fin.,
Inc. v. Midwhey Power Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir.
1989). A court may thus strike defenses that are
“insufficient on the face of the pleadings, ”
that fail “as a matter of law, ” or that are
“legally insufficient.” Id. at 1294.
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
moves to strike or summarily dismiss the University's
Affirmative Defense Nos. 1 through 11 and 13 through 22, and
the University's answer to paragraph 26 of
Plaintiff's Complaint. [Dkt. 23.] Likewise,
Plaintiff moves to strike or summarily dismiss IUHP
Affirmative Defense Nos. 1 through 9 and 11 through 19, and
IUHP's answers to paragraphs 24 and 26 of Plaintiff's
Complaint. [Dkt. 23.] As Plaintiff does not assert
that the defenses are redundant or scandalous, the Court will
address each defense in relation to the other requirements
set forth in Rule 12(f).
well established that defenses consisting of “nothing
but bare bones conclusory allegations” are deficient.
Heller, 883 F.2d at 1295. “Affirmative
defenses are pleadings and, therefore, are subject to all
pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure.” Id. at 1294. Accordingly, they
must set forth a “short and plain statement of the
defense” that gives the other party fair notice of the
nature of the defense. Id. at 1294 (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 8(a)). The exact amount of factual material
that a defense must include, however, is unclear. The Seventh
Circuit has yet to determine whether the more stringent
pleading standard for complaints set forth in Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 (2007), and
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 666 (2009), also
applies to affirmative defenses. For the purpose of resolving
this motion, however, the Court does not need to further
analyze which standard to apply. As explained in detail
below, the pleading deficiencies here violate even the lowest
standard set forth in Heller.
The University's Affirmative Defenses
and the University have agreed that no punitive damages are
sought against the University. [Dkt. 27 at 9-10.]
The only claims brought against the University are those
pursuant to Title VII and the Rehabilitation Act, not in
pursuant of punitive damages. Therefore, Affirmative Defenses
No. 5, and 13-15 are moot.
Failure to State a Claim: Defense No. 1.
argues the Court should strike the University's
Affirmative Defense No. 1 because the University has not
provided any allegations as to how Plaintiff failed to state
a claim. However, the Court will not strike the defense on
this ground. The Rules allow parties to raise the defense of
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted” in the responsive pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(h)(2)(A). It is a nonwaivable defense that may be asserted
at any time. Simply asserting that defense in a responsive
pleading is a mere nullity; it has absolutely no effect on
the outcome of the proceedings without some factual and legal
support. The Rules permit this as an adequate response;
therefore, this Court does as well. The Court will not rule
on the merits of the University's Rule ...