ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE
United States District Court For the Northern District of California
This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Strike 18 Defendants' Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses brought by 19 Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc. ("Plaintiff") against 20 Defendants Melinda J. Vizcarra and Ricardo Vizcarra, individually 21 and d/b/a Ka Linda Restaurant (collectively, "Defendants"). ECF 22 No. 23 ("MTS"). Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court 23 finds the Motion suitable for determination without oral argument. 24 For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's 25 Motion in part and DENIES it in part with respect to the Amended 26 Answer, and GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion with respect to both 27 affirmative defenses. 28
On March 10, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging that 3 it owned exclusive nationwide commercial distribution (closed-4 circuit) rights for a boxing match televised in 2010 ("Program") 5 and that Defendants had unlawfully exhibited the Program at 6 Defendants' restaurant. See ECF No. 1 ("Compl.") ¶¶ 10-13. 7
Defendants, proceeding pro se, timely filed an Answer in which they 8 asserted five affirmative defenses. ECF No. 12 ("Answer"). 9
Plaintiff moved to strike all five. ECF No. 13 ("First MTS"). 10
After the First MTS had been fully briefed (ECF Nos. 14 & 16), but before the Court ruled on it, Defendants retained counsel. See 12 ECF No. 18. A few days later, this Court ruled on the First MTS, 13 granting Plaintiff's motion. ECF No. 21 ("Order"). The Court 14 struck from the initial Answer all five affirmative defenses but 15 gave Defendants leave to amend two of them, laches and unclean 16 hands. Order at 7. The Order stated: 17
If Defendants wish to amend these two affirmative defenses, they shall file an Amended Answer within thirty 18 (30) days of this Order. If they have not filed an Amended Answer setting forth particular facts in support 19 of their laches and unclean hands defenses within thirty 20 (30) days, those defenses will be deemed STRICKEN WITH PREJUDICE. 21
Defendants, now appearing through counsel, filed an Amended Answer on September 30, 2011, three days after the Court's Order.
ECF No. 22 ("Am. Answer"). The Amended Answer differed from the initial Answer in several respects. In addition to modifying their laches and unclean hands defenses, Defendants, through counsel, entirely rewrote the Answer to include a demand for a jury trial, Am. Ans. at 3, and a series of denials, Am. Ans. at 1. These 2 denials consisted of: two general denials; assertions of 3 insufficient information to respond; specific denials; and a 4 statement denying everything "[e]xcept as expressly admitted 5 herein." Am. Ans. at 1, ¶¶ 1-4. The amended pleading, despite its 6 reference to express admissions, contained none.*fn1
On October 14, 2011, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to 8 Strike Defendants' entire Amended Answer, including the laches and 9 unclean hands defenses, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10 12(f).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that a court 14 may, on its own or on a motion, "strike from a pleading an 15 insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or 16 scandalous matter." 17
A defense may be insufficient as a matter of pleading or as a 18 matter of law. Sec. People, Inc. v. Classic Woodworking, LLC, No. 19 C-04-3133 MMC, 2005 WL 645592, at *2 (N.D. Cal., Mar. 4, 2005). A 20 defense is insufficient as a matter of pleading if it fails to 21 "give plaintiff fair notice of the defense" and the grounds upon 22 which it rests. Simmons v. Navajo Cty., 609 F.3d 1011, 1023 (9th 23 Cir. 2010) (quoting Wyshak v. City Nat'l Bank, 607 F.2d 824, 827 24 (9th Cir. 1979)). If a defense is insufficient as a matter of ...