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Allen Ansari v. Electronic Document Processing

September 10, 2012

ALLEN ANSARI,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELECTRONIC DOCUMENT PROCESSING, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION;
DUSTIN K. FERRO, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; AND DOES 1 THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lucy H. Koh United States District Judge

United States District Court For the Northern District of California

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STRIKE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES

Plaintiff Allen Ansari ("Plaintiff") brings this action against Defendants Electronic Document Processing, Inc. ("EDP") and Dustin K. Ferro ("Ferro") (collectively "Defendants"), for 20 violations of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692, et seq., 21 and California's Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("RFDCPA"), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 22 1788, et seq. See ECF No. 1 ("Compl.") ¶ 1, 2. The matter comes before the Court now on Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Affirmative Defenses pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil 24 Procedure 12(f) ("Motion"). ECF No. 20. Having considered the submissions of the parties and 25 the relevant law, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to strike. 26

I.BACKGROUND

On March 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint and demand for jury trial against Defendants 28 for alleged violations of the FDCPA and RFDCPA. Compl. ¶ 2. EDP is a company that performs tasks associated with service of process for parties involved in litigation. Id. ¶¶ 21, 24, 55. Ferro is 2 a registered process server who performs services on EDP's behalf. Id. ¶ 11, 21. 3

Superior Court for the County of Santa Clara, by Patenaude & Felix, APC. Id. ¶ 46. The lawsuit 6 related to a debt purportedly owed by Plaintiff. Id. Patenaude & Felix engaged Defendants to 7 serve legal process on Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 47. Plaintiff alleges that on or about June 6, 2011, 8

Plaintiff with the summons and complaint on April 5, 2011. Id. ¶ 48. Plaintiff alleges that 10 been, served personally or otherwise. Id. ¶ 49. Plaintiff alleges that he did not become aware of the state court action until on or about April 13, 2011, when he received a letter informing him of 13 the lawsuit. Id. ¶ 54. 14

15 failure to state a claim; (2) dishonest conduct; (3) laches; (4) waiver; (5) estoppel; (6) mitigation of 16 damages; (7) allocation of fault to third persons; (8) lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (9) First 17 (12) consent; (13) no proximate causation; (14) conditions precedent; (15) negligence of third 19 persons; (16) improper joinder; (17) illusory, non-quantified damages; (18) adequate remedy at 20 law; (19) acquiescence; (20) lack of standing to sue; (21) lack of notice; (22) statute of limitations; 21

18 ("Answer").

24 defenses pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). See Motion. Defendants filed their 25 opposition on June 20, 2012. See ECF No. 23 ("Opposition"). Plaintiff filed his reply on June 23, 26

Plaintiff alleges that on February 18, 2011, a lawsuit, captioned Equable Ascent Financial, LLC v. Allen Ansari, et al. ("the state court action"), was initiated against Plaintiff in the California 5

Defendants filed a proof of service with the state court stating that Ferro had personally served 9

Defendants' statements in the proof of service were false because Plaintiff was not, and has not Defendants filed an Answer, in which they asserted twenty-four affirmative defenses: (1) Amendment; (10) failure of performance of conditions; (11) reduction due to comparative fault; 18

(23) exemptions and immunities; and (24) right to assert further affirmative defenses. See ECF No. 22

On June 6, 2012, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to strike all twenty-four affirmative

2012. See ECF No. 24 ("Reply").27 28

4 defenses to each claim asserted against it." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)(1). Federal Rule of Civil 5

II.MOTION TO STRIKE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES

A.Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(b)(1) requires a party to "state in short and plain terms its Procedure 12(f) permits a court to "strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, 6 immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." A Rule 12(f) motion to strike serves "to avoid the 7 expenditure of time and money that must arise from litigating spurious issues by dispensing with 8 those issues prior to trial." Sidney-Vinstein v. A.H. Robins Co., 697 F.2d 880, 885 (9th Cir. 1983); 9 see Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir. 1993), rev'd on other grounds, 510 U.S. 517 (1994). A defense may be stricken as insufficient if it fails to give plaintiff "fair notice" of the defense. Wyshak v. City Nat'l Bank, 607 F.2d 824, 827 (9th Cir. 1979); see generally Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. A court may also strike from an answer matter that is immaterial, i.e., "that which has 13 no essential or important relationship to the claim for relief or the defenses being plead," or matter 14 that is impertinent, i.e., that which does not pertain, and is not necessary, to the issues in question. 15

As a threshold matter, the parties dispute what standard applies to Defendants' pleading of 7 affirmative defenses. Specifically, the parties dispute whether the heightened "plausibility" 18 pleading standard for complaints announced in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 19 S.Ct. 1937 (2009), defines what constitutes "fair notice" of an affirmative defense pled in an 21 answer. Motion at 4; Opposition at 4. 22

23 unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Rather, "in order to 'give the 24 defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,' " Twombly, 550 25

U.S. at 554--55 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 103 (1957)), "a complaint 26 must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on 27 its face,' " Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A pleading that offers 28

Fantasy, 984 F.2d at 1527. 16

S.Ct. 1955 (2007), and extended to all civil complaints in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 20

Twombly and Iqbal held that "Rule 8... demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-

'labels and conclusion' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' " 2

Plaintiff contends this standard applies to Defendants' affirmative defenses as well as the

4 allegations in the Complaint. Motion at 4-7. Defendants contend that it does not. Opposition at 4-5

7. Notably, neither the Supreme Court nor the circuit courts have directly addressed the issue. The 6 district courts that have addressed the issue are split. See Perez v. Gordon & Wong Law Group, 7

Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). 3

P.C., No. 11-CV-03323-LHK, 2012 WL 1029425, at *8 (N.D. Cal. March 26, 2012). However, 8 the "vast majority," including this Court and others within the Northern District of California, have 9 found that the heightened pleading standard announced in Twombly and Iqbal does apply to 10 affirmative ...


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