United States District Court, S.D. California
ANDREW A. CEJAS, Plaintiff,
DANIEL PARAMO et al., Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION RE: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
TO STRIKE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES [DOC. NO. 97.]
WILLIAM V. GALLO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
moves to strike all thirteen affirmative defenses in
Defendants' Answer to the First Amended Complaint. This
Court RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff's motion to strike be
DENIED in its entirety.
17, 2018, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint with
leave of Court. (Doc. No. 59.) Defendants filed an Answer on
May 10, 2019 after motion practice, which resulted in the
Court granting-in-part a motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 90.)
The Answer contains thirteen affirmative defenses along with
responses to the factual and preamble paragraphs from the
First Amended Complaint. Plaintiff in turn, filed a
“response” in the form of a motion to
“strike or set aside” Defendants' affirmative
defenses. (Doc. No. 97.) The motion is a
paragraph-by-paragraph response to the Answer. In many
places, Plaintiff simply asserts that he agrees or disagrees
with corresponding portions of the Answer. (See,
e.g., Doc. No. 97 at ¶¶ 1-2, 4-7
(agreeing); 3 (disagreeing).) In response to Defendants'
contentions that they “lack sufficient knowledge or
information to admit or deny the remaining allegations, and
on that basis, deny the allegations, ” (see,
e.g., Doc. No. 94 ¶¶ 2, 9, 11-13, 16-17,
23-24, 28-29, 38), Plaintiff asserts that Defendants
do have sufficient knowledge and information to
admit the allegations, (e.g., id., at ¶¶
2, 7, 9-17, 19, 23-24, 28-30, 32, 34, 38). As for the
thirteen affirmative defenses, Plaintiff attempts to argue
the substantive merits of each defense. For example, in
response to Defendants' assertion of the qualified
immunity defense (Doc. No. 94 at 5), Plaintiff argues:
Defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity because
their conduct was unconstitutional, and the federal First
Amendment rights asserted [were] clearly established at the
time of the alleged First Amendment violations. Defendants
had fair notice that retaliation violated the First
Amendment. Defendant Rutledge['s] conduct did violate
clearly established law of which a reasonable person would
have known, and Rutledge['s] action did not reasonably
advance a legitimate correctional goal. Defendant Rutledge
violated Plaintiff's First Amendment rights, and [is] not
entitled to qualified immunity. Defendant Rutledge did not
act within the scope of discretion or in good faith.
Defendant Rutledge carried out his threat to retaliate, and
violated mandatory statutes, rules, regulations and practice
not in good faith. Defendant Rutledge violated federal and
(Doc. No. 97 at 7-8.) The motion proceeds in this manner in
response to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, eleventh
affirmative defenses. (Id. at 7-10, 12.) As to the
remaining affirmative defenses, Plaintiff simply asserts that
Defendants cannot prevail. (Id. at 10-12.) For
example, in response to the eighth affirmative defense of
“waiver, ” Plaintiff asserts: “Plaintiff
has not [w]aived any claims violating to damages [sic] and/or
injury caused by Defendant Rutledge.” (Id. at
motion demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the
purpose of Answers and motions to strike affirmative
defenses. The purpose of an Answer is simply to give notice
of the issues in dispute and to preserve defenses-not to
litigate the merits of the case or to assert detailed facts.
United States v. All Assets Held at Bank Julius Baer
& Co., 959 F.Supp.2d 81, 116 n.21 (D.D.C. 2013)
(noting that “one function of an answer” is to
identify “points of disagreement”); Garrett
v. Walker, No. CIV S-06-1904-RRB-EFB-P, 2007 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 55829, at *3 (E.D. Cal. July 31, 2007) (“The
purpose of the answer is to simply admit or deny allegations
of the complaint, not to test sufficiency of
evidence.”); Buford v. Vang, No.
00CV6496-REC-SMS-P, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24734, at *10 (E.D.
Cal. July 7, 2005) (“The function of the answer is to
put the case at issue as to all important matters alleged in
the complaint that the defendant does not want to
admit.”); see also M.C. v. Antelope Valley Union
High Sch. Dist., 858 F.3d 1189, 1199 (9th Cir. 2017).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), the Court may strike
“an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial,
impertinent or scandalous” matter from the pleadings.
The purpose 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) (internal quotations and citation
omitted). Motions to strike are regarded with disfavor
because striking is such a drastic remedy. Freeman v. ABC
Legal Servs., Inc., 877 F.Supp.2d 919, 923 (N.D. Cal.
Ninth Circuit, “[t]he key to determining the
sufficiency of pleading an affirmative defense is whether it
gives plaintiff fair notice of the defense.”
Simmons v. Navajo Cnty., Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1023
(9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Wyshak v. City Nat'l
Bank, 607 F.2d 824, 827 (9th Cir. 1979)). “Fair
notice generally requires that the defendant state the nature
and grounds for the affirmative defense.” Roe v.
City of San Diego, 289 F.R.D. 604, 608 (S.D. Cal. 2013).
“The defendant must articulate the affirmative defense
clearly enough that the plaintiff is not a victim of unfair
surprise. It does not, however, require a detailed
statement of facts.” Id. (citation and
internal quotations omitted; emphasis added); see also
Kohler v. Flava Enters., Inc., 779 F.3d 1016, 1019 (9th
Cir. 2015) (“[T]he ‘fair notice' required by
the pleading standards only require[s] describing [an
affirmative] defense in general terms.”) (internal
quotations and citation omitted).
rather than argue that any affirmative defense is
insufficient, redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or
scandalous, Plaintiff either argues the merits of various
defenses or provides a substantive response to other
defenses. However, he fails to provide any cognizable basis
for the Court to strike any affirmative defense-for
example, because one is not a proper defense as a matter of
law. The Court finds nothing improper about Defendants'
affirmative defenses, which simply place Plaintiff on notice
and fulfill the purpose of such pleadings. Accordingly,
because Plaintiff has not satisfied the standard for striking
any affirmative defense under Rule 12(f), his motion is
wholly without merit and should be DENIED.
reasons set forth herein, this Court RECOMMENDS that
Plaintiffs motion to strike be DENIED.
Report and Recommendation will be submitted to the United
States District Judge assigned to this case, pursuant to the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. section ...