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City of Colton v. American Promotional Events

January 5, 2012

CITY OF COLTON
v.
AMERICAN PROMOTIONAL EVENTS, INC., ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Title

Present: The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge

Wendy K. Hernandez Not Present n/a

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter Tape No.

Attorneys Present for Plaintiff(s): Attorneys Present for Defendant(s):

Not Present Not Present

Proceedings: (In Chambers) Order GRANTING in part and DENYING in part motion to strike affirmative defenses and GRANTING motion to strike demand for jury trial

Before the Court is Plaintiff United States of America's ("United States") motion to strike Goodrich Corporation's ("Goodrich") affirmative defenses and demand for jury trial. Dkt. #901. The Court finds the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15. After considering the moving and opposing papers, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion to strike affirmative defenses. The motion to strike Goodrich's demand for jury trial is GRANTED.

I. Background

The parties and the Court are familiar with the background of this case, and the Court will only discuss the matters relevant to the present motion. On May 20, 2011, the United States filed its First Amended Complaint against multiple defendants, including Goodrich. Dkt. #722. The United States brings claims against Goodrich under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") for recovery of response costs incurred by the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") due to Goodrich's disposal of hazardous substances in the Rialto-Colton Groundwater Basin. FAC ¶¶ 73-75. The United States also seeks a declaratory judgment that Goodrich is liable for future EPA response costs. Id. ¶¶ 110, 111. Lastly, the United States seeks an injunction against Goodrich under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA") to abate imminent contamination of groundwater in the Basin. Id. ¶¶ 76-79.

On June 3, 2011, Goodrich filed its Answer, Counterclaim to the United States, and Crossclaims. Dkt. #779. Goodrich's Answer asserts 50 affirmative defenses. Answer ¶¶ 112-161. Goodrich also demands a jury trial. Id. at 1. In a stipulation filed June 23, 2011, Goodrich agreed that the United States could file its answer or other responsive pleading to Goodrich's Counterclaim on or before August 15, 2011. Dkt. #790. On August 15, 2011, the United States filed the present motion to strike Goodrich's affirmative defenses, as well as Goodrich's demand for a jury trial, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). Dkt. #901. Goodrich subsequently filed an opposition to the United States' motion to strike. Dkt. #998.

In addition, Pyro Spectaculars, Inc., Astro Pyrotechnics, Inc., Trojan Fireworks Company, Emhart Industries, Inc., Kwikset Lock, Inc., Black & Decker, Inc., Thomas O. Peters, The 1996 Thomas O. Peters and Kathleen S. Peters Revocable Trust, Stonehurst Site, LLC, Whittaker Corporation, Ken Thompson, Inc., Rialto Concrete Products, Inc., Environmental Enterprises, Inc., General Dynamics Corporation, Raytheon Company, American Promotional Events, Inc.-West, the Estate of Harry Hescox, and James Hescox, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Harry Hescox, (collectively "Joint Opposing Parties") have all jointly filed an opposition to the United States' motion. Dkt. #996. Even though the United States has only moved to strike portions of Goodrich's Answer, the Joint Opposing Parties filed an opposition because the United States' motion "targets the affirmative defenses of all parties in each of the consolidated cases." Joint Opp. 1:3-8.

II. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that a court "may order stricken from any pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous matter." A court may strike sua sponte or on a motion made by a party before responding to the pleading or within 21 days after being served with the pleading. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). To strike an affirmative defense, the moving party must demonstrate "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." Cal. Dep. of Toxic Substances Control v. Alco Pacific, Inc., 217 F. Supp. 2d 1028, 1032 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (quoting SEC v. Sands, 902 F. Supp. 1149, 1165 (C.D. Cal. 1995)). "'Immaterial' matter is that which has no essential or important relationship to the claim for relief or the defenses being pleaded." Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir. 1993) (quoting 5 Charles A. Wright & Arthur Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure ยง 1382, at 706-07 (1990)). ...


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