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Solis v. Couturier

July 7, 2009

HILDA L. SOLIS, SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CLAIR R. COUTURIER, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ralph R. Beistline United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE AT DOCKET 88

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Plaintiff Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, with a Motion at Docket 88 to strike all the affirmative defenses asserted by Defendant Clair Couturier, Jr. in his Answer at Docket 74. Plaintiff brings this motion under Rule 12(f) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, which permits the Court to strike any defense which is insufficient as a matter of law.

Couturier opposes at Docket 101, requesting that this Court deny Plaintiff's Motion or, in the alternative, permit Couturier to amend his Answer to correct any defects in his pleading.

As the parties are familiar with the facts of this case, the facts will only be cited within this Order insofar as they relate to the Court's ruling.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the court, "may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous matter." To strike an affirmative defense, the moving party must convince the court "'that there are no questions of fact, that any questions of law are clear and not in dispute, and that under no set of circumstances could the defense succeed.'"*fn1 The Ninth Circuit has held that the inclusion of a legally insufficient affirmative defense may result in "prejudice..., delay, delay, and confusion of the issues."*fn2

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff asserts that none of Couturier's affirmative defenses are legally sufficient, and that several of them (the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th defenses) "fail to give the Secretary fair notice of the bases for the defenses asserted."*fn3

It should be noted that Couturier does not oppose Plaintiff's Motion as it relates to the 2nd and 3rd Affirmative Defenses. Therefore, those affirmative defenses are ordered stricken. The Court will address the sufficiency of the remaining defenses in turn.

A. The First Affirmative Defense is Sufficient

Plaintiff argues that the First Affirmative Defense, which alleges that this action is barred by the statute of limitations, should be stricken because "this Court has already explicitly rejected a statute of limitations/actual knowledge argument asserted by Couturier in a Motion to Dismiss."*fn4

Couturier counters that "[t]he standard on a 12(b)(6) ruling...as to which the Court was required to assume that all facts pled by the Secretary are true, has no bearing on the Secretary's motion to strike this affirmative defense."*fn5 The Court agrees. Couturier has alleged that the Secretary had "actual knowledge" of the fiduciary breaches alleged in this action prior to the applicable three-year statute of limitations period. This is sufficient to survive a 12(f) motion. If ...


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