United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. BODENHAUSEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on plaintiff's motion to
strike defendant's affirmative defenses. Defendant has
filed a response in opposition, and the issues are fully
briefed. All matters are pending before the undersigned
United States Magistrate Judge, with consent of the parties,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
January 1, 2016, plaintiff Steven Nyikos entered into an
Employment Agreement with defendant Lemnatec Corporation
whereby plaintiff was hired as the corporation's Asia
Sales Manager. Plaintiff remained an employee of the
corporation until May 2018. On July 13, 2018, plaintiff filed
this case in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis,
bringing claims for money had and received, unjust
enrichment, breach of employment agreement, and unpaid
commissions pursuant to Missouri law. The case was removed to
federal court on October 31, 2018, on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. Plaintiff alleges, among other things, that
pursuant to the Employment Agreement, plaintiff was to
receive a base salary and commissions, and that despite
having completed many sales on behalf of defendant, plaintiff
never received any such commissions. On October 31, 2018,
defendant filed its answer to plaintiff's complaint and
eleven affirmative defenses. Plaintiff moves to strike ten of
those eleven affirmative defenses based on Missouri's
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that a court may
strike from a pleading “any redundant, immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Courts have liberal
discretion to strike pleadings under Rule 12(f).
Nationwide Ins. Co. v. Cent. Mo. Elec. Co-op, Inc.,
278 F.3d 742, 748 (8th Cir. 2001). However, striking a
party's pleading is an extreme measure that is viewed
with disfavor and infrequently granted. Stanbury Law
Firm, P.A. v. IRS, 221 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000).
“In ruling on a motion to strike, the Court views the
pleadings in the light most favorable to the pleader.”
Shirrell v. St. Francis Med. Ctr., No. 1:13-CV-42
SNLJ, 2013 WL 3457010, at *1 (E.D. Mo. July 9, 2013)
(citation omitted). “A motion to strike an affirmative
defense should not be granted unless, as a matter of law, the
defense cannot succeed under any circumstances or is
immaterial in that it has no essential or important
relationship to the claim for relief.” Id.
(internal quotation and citation omitted). The party filing a
motion to strike must show that it is prejudiced by the
inclusion of a defense or that a defense's inclusion
confuses the issues. Id. “[W]here a challenged
defense fails as a matter of law or is immaterial to the
matter, the resources and time expended to counter such a
defense constitute a per se prejudice.” In re RFC
& ResCap Liquidating Trust Litig., No. 13-CV 3520
JRT/HB, 2015 WL 2451254, at *4 (D. Minn. May 21, 2015).
alleges that defendant has failed to plead a factual basis
for its affirmative defenses of estoppel, laches, waiver,
mitigation of damages, and improper request for punitive
damages, as is required by Missouri law. However, this case
was removed to federal court on October 31, 2018, and
therefore, the federal rules and federal pleading standards
apply to defendant's affirmative defenses. Fed.R.Civ.P.
81(c) (“These rules apply to a civil action after it is
removed from a state court.”).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(c) governs the pleading of
affirmative defenses and requires that a party
“affirmatively state any avoidance or affirmative
defense.” Furthermore, Rule 8(d) states that
“[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.
No. technical form is required.” In analyzing whether
an affirmative defense has been properly plead, the Eighth
Circuit has concluded that “[t]he rules do not require
a party to plead every step of legal reasoning that may be
raised in support of its affirmative defense; they only
require a defendant to state in short and plain terms its
defenses to plaintiff's claims.” Wisland v.
Admiral Beverage Corp., 119 F.3d 733, 737 (8th Cir.
1997). Moreover, an affirmative defense “need not be
articulated with any rigorous degree of specificity and is
sufficiently raised for purposes of Rule 8 by its bare
assertion.” Zotos v. Lindbergh School
Dist., 121 F.3d 356, 361 (8th Cir. 1997) (emphasis in
original) (internal quotations omitted).
addition, this Court has previously held, in accordance with
several other district courts both within and outside the
Eighth Circuit, that affirmative defenses are not held to the
heightened pleading requirements of Iqbal and
Twombly. Stein for Halpern Ins. Trust v. Phoenix
Life Ins. Co., No. 4:17 CV 2879 JMB, 2018 WL 3993980, at
*2 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 21, 2018) (holding that the notice pleading
standard, as opposed to the heightened Twombly/Iqbal
standard, applies to affirmative defenses); see also
Swinter Grp., Inc. v. Nationwide Truckers' Ins.
Agency, No. 4:17-CV-2310-SPM, 2018 WL 306024, at *4-5
(E.D. Mo. Jan. 5, 2018) (holding that Twombly/Iqbal
standard does not apply to affirmative defenses); Wells
Fargo & Co. v. United States, 750 F.Supp.2d 1049,
1051 (D. Minn. Oct. 27, 2010) (Twombly and
Iqbal “do not apply to the pleading of
defenses under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b) and (c).”). Therefore,
a short and plain statement of an affirmative defense is all
that is required. See Wisland, 119 F.3d at 737.
Court determines that defendant's affirmative defenses
are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 and federal
notice pleading standards, rather than the Missouri pleading
standards on which plaintiff's motion is based.
Furthermore, plaintiff has not identified any
“redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter” for the Court to strike. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).
Therefore, the Court will deny the present motion, without
prejudice to plaintiff filing a renewed motion based on the
proper rules and pleading standards.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's
motion to strike affirmative ...