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Eurow & O'Reilly Corp. v. Superior Manufacturing Group, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 6, 2015

EUROW & O'REILLY CORP., Plaintiff,
v.
SUPERIOR MANUFACTURING GROUP, INC., Defendant.

ORDER RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFF'S AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES TO DEFENDANT'S COUNTERCLAIMS [22]

RONALD S.W. LEW, Senior District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Currently before the Court is Defendant Superior Manufacturing Group, Inc.'s ("SMG" or "Defendant") Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Affirmative Defenses to Defendant's Counterclaims [22]. Defendant's Motion [22] arises out of Plaintiff Eurow & O'Reilly Corp.'s ("Eurow" or "Plaintiff") action for declaratory relief regarding trademark rights in the mark "NeatTrax." First Amend. Compl. ("FAC") ¶¶ 1, 12, ECF No. 16. Defendant's Answer included federal and state counterclaims for trademark infringement. Answer 17:22-26:28, ECF No. 17. Plaintiff's Answer to Defendant's Counterclaims [21] asserts twenty-three affirmative defenses. Defendant moves pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to strike all twenty-three affirmative defenses, or, in the alternative, moves pursuant to Rule 12(e) for a more definite statement. Def.'s Mot. Strike Pl.'s Affirmative Defenses ("Mot.") 2:12-17, 4:12-5:16, ECF No. 22.

The Court, having reviewed all papers submitted and pertaining to this motion, NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: The Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Affirmative Defenses to Defendant's Counterclaims [22].

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Eurow is a family-owned California corporation that manufactures and sells microfiber and sheepskin products via both wholesale and retail channels. FAC ¶ 2. Defendant SMG is a large Illinois corporation and a worldwide leading manufacturer of floor matting products. Def.'s Countercls. ("Countercls.") ¶ 1, ECF No. 17. This action arises out of a dispute over trademark rights in the mark "NeatTrax." See FAC ¶ 25; Answer ¶ 25. Plaintiff requests a declaratory judgment that Plaintiff's use of the "NeatTrax" mark "does not infringe trademarks putatively owned by the Defendant." FAC ¶ 1.

Defendant's Answer [17] asserts counterclaims of Federal Trademark Infringement in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1114; False Designation of Origin in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a); Common Law Trademark Infringement; violation of the California Unfair Trade Practices Act, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200; and California Common Law Unfair Competition. Answer 17:22-26:28. Plaintiff's Answer to Defendant's Counterclaims [21] asserts twenty-three affirmative defenses. Defendant moves pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) to strike all twenty-three of Plaintiff's affirmative defenses for legal or factual inadequacy, or, in the alternative, requests an order pursuant to Rule 12(e) requiring Plaintiff to make a more definite statement. Mot. 2:12-17, 4:12-5:16.

Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff filed the present Motion to Strike [22] on December 19, 2014. Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant timely filed its Opposition [25] on January 6, 2015. The time for a reply has lapsed, and no reply has been filed. The Motion [22], set for hearing on January 27, 2015 [24], was taken under submission on January 21, 2015 [27].

DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), the Court may, on its own or on a party's motion, strike "an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous" matter from a pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f); Amini Innovation Corp. v. McFerran Home Furnishings Inc., No. CV-13-6496-RSWL, 2014 WL 360048, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 31, 2014). The function of Rule 12(f) is "to avoid the expenditure of time and money that must arise from litigating spurious issues by disposing of those issues prior to trial." Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 973 (9th Cir. 2010).

The grounds for a motion to strike must appear on the face of the pleading under attack. Id . The Court must view the pleading under attack in the light most favorable to the pleader. Amini, 2014 WL 360048, at *2. If a motion to strike is granted, leave to amend should be freely given unless leave to amend would not be in the interests of justice. Id . (citing Wyshak v. City Nat'l Bank, 607 F.2d 824, 826 (9th Cir. 1979)).

B. Insufficient Defense

"An affirmative defense may be insufficient as a matter of pleading or as a matter of law." Empl. Painters' Trust v. P. N.W. Contractors, Inc., No. C13-05018-BHS, 2013 ...


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