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Camacho v. Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

October 2, 2014

CARLOS S. CAMACHO, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFERSON CAPITAL SYSTEMS, LLC, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES [Re: ECF 12]

BETH LABSON FREEMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff brings the above-captioned action against Defendant for violations of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, and California's Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("RFDCPA"), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1788 et seq. Plaintiff's instant Motion asks the Court to strike the affirmative defenses pled in Defendant's Answer. The Court finds this Motion appropriate for determination without oral argument, pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). Having reviewed the parties' papers and the governing law, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's Motion to Strike.

I. BACKGROUND

In its Answer, Defendant asserts eleven affirmative defenses: (1) failure to state a claim, (2) estoppel, (3) compliance with laws, (4) unclean hands, (5) waiver, (6) offset, (7) statute of limitations, (8) breach of contract, (9) bona fide error, (10) arbitration provision, and (11) additional defenses. Def.'s Answer, ECF 7 at 7-9. Plaintiff moves to strike every defense, pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff argues that Defendant's affirmative defenses are deficient for several reasons: five because they are not pled with the requisite specificity required under Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 566 U.S. 662 (2009) (the second, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth defenses); three because they are "not actually defenses, " Pl.'s Mot. at 11-13 (the first, third, and eleventh defenses); and three because they are "immaterial and impertinent, " Pl.'s Mot. at 13-16 (the fourth, fifth, and sixth defenses).

Defendant does not oppose Plaintiff's Motion as it relates to the defenses of waiver (fifth), statute of limitations (seventh), breach of contract (eighth), or additional defenses (eleventh), see Def.'s Opp. to Mot. at 2 n.2, but argues that its remaining defenses are sufficiently pled. Defendant requests that the Court grant it leave to amend to cure any deficiencies the Court finds in its affirmative defenses, id. at 5, to which Plaintiff does not object. See Pl.'s Mot. at 17.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(b) demands that a party "state in short and plain terms its defenses to each claim asserted against it. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(1). Rule 12(f) governs motions to strike defenses, and permits a court to "strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). Defenses can be stricken when they fail to give a plaintiff "fair notice" of the defense asserted. See, e.g., Wyshak v. City Nat'l Bank, 607 F.2d 824, 827 (9th Cir. 1979). Courts in this district apply the heightened pleading standards of Twombly and Iqbal to affirmative defenses when adjudicating a motion to strike. See, e.g., Barnes v. AT&T Pension Benefit Plan-Nonbargained Program, 718 F.Supp.2d 1167, 1172 (N.D. Cal. 2010); see also Perez v. Gordon & Wong Law Grp., P.C., 2010 WL 1029425, at *7-8 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 26, 2012) (collecting cases within this district, and stating that "the vast majority of federal district courts presented with [this] issue have reached the same conclusion"). "While a defense need not include extensive factual allegations in order to give fair notice, bare statements reciting mere legal conclusions may not be sufficient." Id. at *8 (citing Scott v. Fed. Bond & Collection Servs., Inc., 2011 WL 176846, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 19, 2011)).

When striking an affirmative defense, leave to amend should be freely given so long as it causes no prejudice to the moving party. See, e.g., Wyshak, 607 F.2d 824, 826.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Defenses Conceded by Defendant

Defendant does not oppose Plaintiff's Motion to Strike with regard to four defenses: the fifth (waiver), seventh (statute of limitations), eighth (breach of contract), and eleventh (additional defenses). The Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Strike with regard to these four defenses.

Though Defendant did not oppose Plaintiff's Motion to Strike with regard to these four defenses, the Court is unclear as to whether or not it is seeking leave to amend on these defenses. Though the Court will deny amendment with regard to the eleventh defense, which the Court finds infra is not actually a defense, see Part III.C, the Court will grant Defendant leave to amend with regard to the fifth, seventh, and eighth defenses, because Plaintiff does not articulate any prejudice that may result from Defendant being able to amend those defenses. Wyshak, 607 F.2d 824, 826.

B. Defenses Plaintiff Argues are not Pled with the Requisite Specificity

Plaintiff contends that the second (estoppel), ninth (bona fide error), and tenth (arbitration provision) defenses are not pled with the requisite specificity required by Twombly and Iqbal. Defendant argues that they are pled with enough specificity so as to give Plaintiff fair notice of the defenses. See Def.'s Opp. to Mot. at 4. The Court GRANTS the Motion to Strike with regard ...


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