United States District Court, E.D. California
several motions contesting certain filings of
defendant-intervenor Mrs. Victoria Yeager is before the
court. Parsons Behle & Latimer, PLC
(“PB&L”), plaintiff-intervenor, moves to
strike Mrs. Yeager's Answer and Cross-Complaint. Mot.,
ECF No. 278; Mem., ECF No. 278-1. Mrs. Yeager opposes.
Opp'n, ECF No. 294. The court submitted the matter
without a hearing on October 31, 2016. Mins., ECF No. 305. As
discussed below, the court GRANTS PB&L's motion.
court has outlined the facts and procedural history of this
case in prior orders and so limits this background section to
the information relevant to understanding the instant motion.
2007, General Yeager sued AT&T Mobility, LLC
(“AT&T”) and others for unjustly enriching
themselves by using his name, without his permission, to
promote their products. Yeager v. AT&T Mobility,
LLC, No. 07-2517 (E.D. Cal. filed Nov. 21, 2007). At
trial in 2012, General Yeager was represented by PB&L; he
prevailed in part and was awarded damages, costs and fees.
See Case No. 07-2517, ECF Nos. 227, 270. In January
2013, AT&T deposited the combined award with the court
and filed this interpleader case, noting several people had
come forward with competing claims to these funds. ECF No. 1.
In April 2014, the court granted PB&L's request to
intervene to assert a claim for $106, 408.53 of the deposited
funds based on General Yeager's allegedly unpaid legal
fees. ECF No. 91 (order granting intervention); ECF No. 93
(PB&L Complaint). In June 2014, General Yeager answered
PB&L's complaint-in-intervention and asserted
affirmative defenses against PB&L. ECF No. 95.
March 2015, this court granted Mrs. Yeager a limited right to
intervene in the interpleader action on her own behalf.
Order, ECF No. 164. The court expressly forbade her from
speaking for General Yeager or asserting claims on General
Yeager's behalf. Id. at 6. In December 2015,
after a hearing regarding General Yeager's competency to
proceed with litigation, the court appointed James E. Houpt
as General Yeager's guardian ad litem. Order Dec. 28,
2015, ECF No. 227. Over a year later, Mrs. Yeager moved to
broaden her intervention rights to assert claims and defenses
on General Yeager's behalf as well. ECF No. 248. She
based her request on a written “assignment” of
General Yeager's rights and interests. Id. The
court granted Mrs. Yeager's intervention request, but
only to protect rights and interests General Yeager expressly
assigned to her; namely, rights and interests pertaining to
“[General Yeager's] name, image, and trademarks as
it relates to his claims and causes of action against and by
AT&T.” Intervention Order, ECF No. 263, at 5 (filed
Aug. 12, 2016); see also Assignment, Ex. A, ECF No.
222 at 4. Three months later the court dismissed General
Yeager from this action without prejudice, deeming Mrs.
Yeager his substitute; at the same time the court relieved
Mr. Houpt as guardian ad litem. Substitution Order, ECF No.
306 (“[Mrs. Yeager] steps into General Yeager's
shoes from the date of this order forward.”).
Yeager then filed answers and cross-complaints against
multiple parties. See ECF Nos. 270, 271. As relevant
here, one of her filings was another answer to PB&L's
complaint-in-intervention, which asserted three cross-claims
against PB&L. Answer, ECF No. 271, at 5-11; Cross-Compl.,
ECF No. 271, at 1-5. PB&L moves to strike this new filing
as beyond the permissible scope of Mrs. Yeager's
intervention. PB&L Mem. at 5-13.
district court may “strike from a pleading . . . any
redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f); Whittlestone, Inc. v.
Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 973 (9th Cir. 2010)
(“The function of a 12(f) motion to strike is to avoid
the expenditure of time and money that must arise from
litigating spurious issues by dispensing with those issues
prior to trial[.]”) (citations and quotation marks
court may also strike filings and pleadings under its
“inherent power to control [its] docket.”
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. v. Hercules,
Inc., 146 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation and
quotations marks omitted); Lazy Y Ranch Ltd. v.
Behrens, 546 F.3d 580, 586-88 (9th Cir. 2008)
(discussing district court's ability to strike exhibits
to a motion); Hambleton Bros. Lumber Co. v. Balkin
Enters., Inc., 397 F.3d 1217, 1224-26 (9th Cir. 2005)
(affirming district court's decision to strike deposition
corrections and a declaration); cf. Carrigan v. Cal.
State Legislature, 263 F.2d 560, 564 (9th Cir. 1959)
(discussing inherent power to strike briefs and pleadings
that are “scandalous, impertinent, scurrilous, and/or
“universally acknowledged” that courts may
exercise this inherent power as “necessary to the
exercise of all others, ” including the “power to
impose silence, respect, and decorum.” Chambers v.
NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43 (1991) (citations and
quotation marks omitted). This inherent power is
“governed not by rule or statute but by the control
necessarily vested in courts to manage their own affairs so
as to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of
cases, ” id. (citing Link v. Wabash R.
Co., 370 U.S. 626, 630-31 (1962)).
Yeager's additional Answer to PB&L's complaint
will be stricken. Nothing in this court's intervention or
substitution orders permitted Mrs. Yeager to file additional
pleadings, either on her own behalf or on General
Yeager's behalf. By not filing a
complaint-in-intervention, Mrs. Yeager limited her
intervention request to existing pleadings; granting her
request thus did not signal an opportunity to litigate new
claims and raise new affirmative defenses. See
generally Intervention Order. Also, by subsequently
substituting Mrs. Yeager and granting her the right to step
into General Yeager's shoes for all remaining purposes,
the court expressly bound Mrs. Yeager to General Yeager's
prior decisions and filings. Substitution Order at 1.
ensure intervenors remain within the permissible scope of
intervention, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 requires
intervention motions to “be accompanied by a complaint
in intervention “that sets out the claim or defense for
which intervention is sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(c);
Landry's, Inc. v. Sandoval, No.
2:15-cv-01160-GMN-PAL, 2016 WL 1239254, at *3 (D. Nev. Mar.
28, 2016). Without such a complaint, a court generally grants
intervention only when the purpose of intervention is to
stand on the existing pleadings. Landry's, 2016
WL 1239254, at *3. See, e.g., Beckman Indus.,
Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 474 (9th Cir.
1992) (noting intervention motions have been approved without
a pleading when the motion sufficiently apprised the court of
the grounds for intervention); Bushansky v.
Armacost, No. 12-CV-01597-JST, 2014 WL 5335255, at *2
(N.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2014) (permitting a party to intervene
without filing a proposed pleading when the intervenor
adopted the existing pleadings); Munoz v. PHH Corp.,
No. 1:08-CV-0759-AWI-BAM, ...