United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff
Republic-Vanguard Insurance Company, pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(f), to strike affirmative defenses
asserted by defendant Central State Holdings, LLC. The issues
are fully briefed.
brings this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201, seeking
a declaration of it rights and obligations under a commercial
liability policy of insurance that it issued to defendant
Enersource Electrical Contractors, LLC. In October 2016,
Enersource was found liable for an electrical fire that
damaged property belonging to defendant Central State.
Plaintiff contends that it is not responsible for
indemnifying or defending Enersource.
State filed an answer that included ten affirmative defenses
and a counterclaim for declaratory relief. Plaintiff moves to
strike Central State's affirmative defenses 6, 8, 9, and
may strike “from a pleading an insufficient defense or
any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). “A matter is
immaterial or impertinent when not relevant to the resolution
of the issue at hand.” McLafferty v. Safeco Ins.
Co. of Ind., No. 14-564 DSD/SER, 2014 WL 2009086, at *3
(D. Minn. May 16, 2014) (citation omitted). Under Rule 12(f),
a court has discretion to strike affirmative defenses.
See Lunsford v. United States, 570 F.2d 221, 229
(8th Cir. 1977). But while the district court enjoys broad
discretion in determining whether to strike a party's
pleadings, such an action is an extreme and disfavored
measure. BJC Health Sys. v. Columbia Cas. Co., 478
F.3d 908, 917 (8th Cir. 2007); Stanbury Law Firm v.
I.R.S., 221 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000).
filing a motion to strike under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) bear the
burden of providing the Court any reason why this language is
immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous.” Missouri
ex rel. Koster v. Charter Commc'ns, No. 4:15-CV-1593
(RLW), 2016 WL 1625461, at *4 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 21, 2016)
(quoting Simms v. Chase Student Loan Servicing, LLC,
No. 4:08-CV-1480 (ERW), 2009 WL 943552, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Apr.
6, 2009)). “Motions to strike affirmative defenses
should not be granted unless, as a matter of law, the defense
cannot succeed under any circumstances.” Id.
(quotation marks and citations omitted). Moreover, “[a]
motion to strike should not succeed unless the party shows
that it is prejudiced by the inclusion of a defense or that a
defense's inclusion confuses the issues.”
Fidelity Nat'l Title Ins. Co. v. Captiva Lake Invs.,
LLC, No. 4:10-CV-1890 (CEJ), 2011 WL 845928, at *1 (E.D.
Mo. Mar. 8, 2011). “The prejudice requirement is
satisfied if striking the defense would, for example, prevent
a party from engaging in burdensome discovery, or otherwise
expending time and resources litigating irrelevant issues
that will not affect the case's outcome.”
Id. (quotation marks and citations omitted).
affirmative defense 6, Central State asserts that Counts I
and II of the complaint are barred by the doctrine of
estoppel. Plaintiff argues that this affirmative defense
should be stricken because defendant has not adequately
pleaded all of the elements of estoppel. The Eighth Circuit
has held that affirmative defenses “need not be
articulated with any rigorous degree of specificity”
and are “sufficiently raised for purposes of Rule 8 by
its bare assertion.” Zotos v. Lindbergh
Sch. Dist., 121 F.3d 356, 361 (8th Cir. 1997) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). And, a motion to
strike should be denied if “the defense is sufficient
as a matter of law or if it fairly presents a question of law
or fact which the court ought to hear.” Bartoe v.
Mo. Barge Line Co., No. 1:07-CV-165 (RWS), 2009 WL
1118816, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 24, 2009). Consequently the
Court will not strike affirmative defense 6.
defense 8 states that defendant Central State is entitled to
relief under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 375.420. Affirmative
defense 9 alleges that plaintiff is obligated to pay
defendant Central State because of a later-issued insurance
policy. Plaintiff argues that the Court should strike both
defenses because they merely reiterate counterclaims. [Doc.
#18 at 4]. Under Rule 12(f) “redundant refers to a
statement of facts that are wholly foreign to the issue or
that are needlessly repetitive of immaterial
allegations.” Resolution Tr. Corp. v. Fiala,
870 F.Supp. 962, 977 (E.D. Mo. 1994). Because plaintiff has
failed to show that the allegations of the affirmative
defenses do not relate to the issue involved in this case,
the Court will not strike them. See United States v. Neb.
Beef, Ltd., No. 8:15-CV-370, 2016 WL 6088267, at *5 (D.
Neb. May 6, 2016) (denying a motion to strike that argued
affirmative defenses were duplicative of other defenses,
claims, or counterclaims).
defense 10 states that defendant Central State
“reserves the right to amend these affirmative defenses
and/or assert additional affirmative defenses as discovery
and circumstances dictate.” Plaintiff is correct that a
party cannot reserve the right to amend an answer through an
affirmative defense. See Construction Industry Laborers,
Pension Fund v. Wellington Concrete, LLC, No.
4:15-CV-804 (CAS), 2016 WL 1275605, at *4 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 31,
2016). Any amendments to pleadings, including affirmative
defenses, must be conducted in accordance with Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 15. Id. Defendant Central State
concedes this point. Accordingly, affirmative defense 10 is
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's
motion to strike [Doc. #18] is granted as to
affirmative defense 10 and denie ...