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Putterman v. Supreme Chain Logistics, Ltd.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

May 30, 2018

JULIE S. PUTTERMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
SUPREME CHAIN LOGISTICS, LTD., foreign corporation, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO STRIKE

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). Dkt. #18. Plaintiff argues that a number of Defendants' affirmative defenses should be stricken because they are insufficiently pled. Id. Defendants Supreme Chain Logistics and Davinder Neele respond that their defenses should not be stricken because they provide fair notice to Plaintiff.[1] Dkt. #21. Having reviewed the parties' briefing and considered the arguments set forth therein, the Court now GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's motion.

         II.BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings this case for personal injuries arising from an automobile accident that occurred on southbound I-5 in Seattle, WA, on February 26, 2015. Dkt. #1-1. Plaintiff named as two of the Defendants the driver of the tractor-trailer involved in the accident (Mr. Neele), and Mr. Neele's employer (Supreme Chain Logistics). Id. Mr. Neele and Supreme Chain Logistics filed their Answer to the Complaint on April 17, 2018, raising 16 affirmative defenses. Dkt. #12. Plaintiff now moves to strike defenses 1, 2, 5, 7-14 and 16. Dkt. #18 at 4.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), a district court “may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” “[T]he 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 . . . .” Sidney-Vinstein v. A.H. Robins Co., 697 F.2d 880, 885 (9th Cir. 1983). To determine whether a defense is “insufficient” under Rule 12(f), the Court asks whether it gives the plaintiff fair notice of the defense. Simmons v. Navajo County, 609 F.3d 1011, 1023 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Wyshak v. City Nat'l Bank, 607 F.2d 824, 827 (9th Cir. 1979)). Fair notice generally requires that defendants state the nature and grounds for the affirmative defense. Employee Painters' Trust v. Pac. Nw. Contractors, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59618, 2013 WL 1774628, at *4 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 25, 2013).

         B. Affirmative Defense One

         Plaintiff first moves to strike Defendants' Affirmative Defense One, which states:

1. Plaintiff's action should be dismissed in whole or in part because Plaintiff's alleged damages, if any, may not have been caused by Defendants.

Dkt. #12 at Affirmative Defenses, ¶ 1. Plaintiff argues that this defense should be stricken because it fails to provide sufficient facts by which the Plaintiff can determine the nature and grounds for the defense. Dkt. #18 at 5. Defendants respond that this defense is proper and provides fair notice because the accident occurred in the middle of a busy morning commute, and therefore there are many factors that could have contributed to the accident. Dkt. #21 at 6. The Court agrees with Defendants that this defense gives fair notice, and therefore it will not be stricken.

         C. Affirmative Defense Two

         Although Plaintiff addresses Affirmative Defense Two in its motion, Defendants have agreed to consolidate this defense with Affirmative Defense Three, and therefore this defense no longer appears to be at issue. Dkts. #18 at 4, #21 at 8 and #23 at 2-3.

         D. ...


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