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ROSALES v. CITIBANK

February 14, 2001

RAMIRO ROSALES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITIBANK, FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK AND DOES 1-50, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Trumbull, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

I. INTRODUCTION

Having considered the papers submitted by the parties and the arguments of counsel at the hearing, Defendants' motion to strike is DENIED.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts are alleged in the complaint: Mr. Rosales opened Citibank checking and savings accounts in 1999. Complaint ¶ 10. In early September 2000, Mr. Rosales discovered that more than $2,000 was missing from his account. Id. ¶¶ 1, 10. Specifically, from August 30 through September 5, withdrawals totaling $2,149.23 were made from Mr. Rosales' account via non-Citibank ATMs located in the Los Angeles area. Id. ¶¶ 1, 11. During that time period, Mr. Rosales was in San Jose. Id. ¶ 11. Mr. Rosales did not authorize the withdrawals and he promptly reported the discrepancy to a Citibank branch office. Id. ¶¶ 1, 11, 12. Citibank investigated the claims, and declined to reimburse Mr. Rosales on September 21. Citibank's stated basis for refusing to reimburse Mr. Rosales was:

A careful review of our records indicates that these withdrawals were made from your account as indicated above. Please note that Automated Teller Machine withdrawals can be made only by using your CitiBanking Card AND your Personal Identification Code together. You have informed us that your CitiBanking Card has not been out of your possession. Based upon this information and the results of our investigation, we are unable to honor your claim for reimbursement.

Id. ¶ 3. Citibank also declined to provide to Mr. Rosales copies of the documents which Citibank used in its investigation. Id. ¶ 17.

Approximately one month later, Mr. Rosales filed suit on behalf of himself and the people of California. The complaint alleges two causes of action: violation of the federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act ( 15 U.S.C. § 1693) and violation of California's Unfair Competition Law (California Business & Professions Code § 17200). Specifically, Mr. Rosales alleges that Citibank violated 15 U.S.C. § 1693 (a), (b), (d), (e), and (g) when it failed to investigate each of the unauthorized transfers, failed to recredit the amounts of those unauthorized transfers to his account, failed to provide Mr. Rosales with the documents used in its investigation, failed to make a good faith investigation of the withdrawals, and "knowingly and willfully conclud[ed] that plaintiff's account was not in error when such conclusion could not reasonably have been drawn from the evidence available to Citibank at the time of its investigation." Complaint ¶¶ 19-23. These same acts give rise to Mr. Rosales' unfair competition claim in that the same conduct which violates the Electronic Fund Transfer Act constitutes an unfair, unlawful or deceptive business practice in violation of Section 17200. The complaint further alleges that the unlawful acts "were committed pursuant to Citibank's normal business practices and thus many consumers have been affected thereby in a similar manner." Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and restitution on behalf of himself and all members of the general public who have been subjected to, and have suffered from, such unlawful business practices. Id. ¶ 27.

III. ANALYSIS

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), a party may move to strike "any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). This includes striking any part of the prayer for relief when the relief sought is not recoverable as a matter of law. Bureerong v. Uvawas, 922 F. Supp. 1450, 1479 n. 34 (C.D.Cal. 1996). The essential function of a Rule 12(f) motion is "to avoid the expenditure of time and money that must arise from litigating spurious issues by dispensing with those issues prior to trial." Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir. 1993), rev'd on other grounds, 510 U.S. 517, 114 S.Ct. 1023, 127 L.Ed.2d 455 (1994). Rule 12(f) motions are generally disfavored because they are often used as delaying tactics and because of the limited importance of pleadings in federal practice. Bureerong, 922 F. Supp. at 1478; accord Pease & Curren Ref, Inc. v. Spectrolab, Inc., 744 F. Supp. 945, 947 (C.D.Cal. 1990). Motions to strike are generally not granted unless it is clear that the matter sought to be stricken could have no possible bearing on the subject matter of the litigation. LeDuc v. Kentucky Cent Life Ins. Co., 814 F. Supp. 820, 830 (N.D.Cal. 1992). Courts must view the pleading under attack in the light most favorable to the pleader, treating as admitted all material facts alleged and all reasonable presumptions that can be drawn therefrom. California v. United States, 512 F. Supp. 36, 39 (N.D.Cal. 1981).

In the present motion, Citibank moves to strike allegations from the complaint whereby Plaintiff seeks restitution of the money withdrawn from his account and the allegations whereby Plaintiff pleads on behalf of other members of ...


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