United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. FLEISSIG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion to
strike Plaintiff's jury demand and request for back pay
and lost benefits. ECF No. 12. For the reasons set forth
below, Defendant's motion shall be granted in part and
denied in part.
3, 2017, Plaintiff Lisa Johnson (“Johnson”) filed
her complaint against Defendant Lou Fusz Automotive Network,
Inc. (“Lou Fusz”) under the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. §
1132(a)(3). Johnson alleges that Lou Fusz wrongfully
discharged her in violation of Section 510 of ERISA, which
prohibits discrimination against an ERISA plan participant
“for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of
any right to which such participant may become entitled under
the plan.” 29 U.S.C. § 1140. ECF No. 1.
other relief, Johnson seeks reinstatement and
“restitution in the form of back pay . . . in an amount
equal to her lost wages and other benefits of employment,
with pre- and post-judgment interest.” Id. at
8. She also demands a jury trial “on all issues in this
case which are so triable.” Id. Lou Fusz now
moves to strike Johnson's demand for a jury trial as well
as her request for back pay and lost benefits pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). ECF No. 12.
Fusz argues that this Court should strike Johnson's jury
demand because ERISA does not authorize jury trials for
claims brought under § 1132(a)(3). ECF No. 13 at 2. Lou
Fusz also argues that Johnson is not entitled to back pay and
lost benefits because § 1132(a)(3) provides only for
injunctive and other equitable relief. Id. at 3.
Although Johnson's Complaint refers to her request for
back pay and lost benefits as “restitution, ” Lou
Fusz argues that this relief constitutes compensatory damages
that Johnson is not entitled to recover. Id.
response, Johnson argues that she should be permitted to
plead a jury demand so that she may “preserve such a
right ‘to the extent ERISA claims do implicate a right
to a jury trial.'” ECF No. 18 at 4 (citation
omitted). Johnson further responds that her request for back
pay and lost benefits is properly characterized as equitable
relief. Id. at 2. She argues that relief in the form
of monetary payment “may be characterized as equitable
if [the request for monetary payment] is incidental to a
request for reinstatement, ” and that her request for
monetary relief meets that requirement. Id. at 3-4.
Fusz replies that Johnson's request is not incidental to
her request for reinstatement because she has failed to
“allege any facts” that would show reinstatement
is an appropriate remedy. ECF No. 20 at 3. Reinstatement
would not be an appropriate remedy, according to Lou Fusz,
because Johnson was terminated four years ago and her
position was ultimately eliminated. Id.
Court may strike from a pleading any “immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).
Motions to strike are disfavored because they are an
“extreme measure, ” Stanbury Law Firm v.
IRS, 221 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000), but the
decision to grant or deny a motion to strike “lies
within the sound discretion of the Court.” Johnson
v. Metro. Sewer Dist., 926 F.Supp. 874, 875 (E.D. Mo.
motion to strike a jury demand is only appropriate if Johnson
does not have a federal right to a jury trial. Fed.R.Civ.P.
39 (“When a jury trial has been demanded under [Rule]
38 . . . trial on all issues so demanded must be by jury
unless . . . (2) the court, on motion or on its own, finds
that on some or all of those issues there is no federal right
to a jury trial.”). The Seventh Amendment of the United
States Constitution provides a right to a jury trial in
lawsuits adjudicating legal rights and remedies, but not in
lawsuits adjudicating only equitable rights and remedies.
Chauffeurs, Teamsters & Helpers, Local No. 391 v.
Terry, 494 U.S. 558, 564 (1990). ERISA expressly limits
recovery under § 1132(a)(3) to injunctive and other
equitable relief. Great-W. Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v.
Knudson, 534 U.S. 204, 209-10 (2002). Because Johnson is
only entitled to equitable relief under § 1132(a)(3),
Johnson has no right to a jury trial and her jury demand will
be struck from the pleadings. See, e.g., Teutscher v.
Woodson, 835 F.3d 936, 944 (9th Cir. 2016) (holding that
a wrongful discharge claim under ERISA was “categorized
as equitable-meaning that [the plaintiff] had no right to a
jury trial on that claim”); Langlie v. Onan
Corp., 192 F.3d 1137, 1141 (8th Cir. 1999) (holding, in
the context of an ERISA wrongful discharge claim, that there
was “no right to a jury trial under ERISA).
for Back Pay and Lost Benefits
prayer for relief not available under the applicable law . .
. is properly subject to a motion to strike.”
Johnson, 926 F.Supp. at 875. Lou Fusz's motion
to strike Johnson's request for back pay and lost
benefits may therefore be granted if § 1132(a)(3) does
not authorize such recovery. Because § 1132(a)(3)
provides only for injunctive and “other appropriate
equitable relief, ” the determination of whether