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Santiago v. Gage

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

May 24, 2019

BRUCE GAGE, et al., Defendants.


          J. Richard Creatura United States Magistrate Judge

         The District Court has referred this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights matter to United States Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), (1)(B) and Local Magistrate Judge Rules MJR 1, 3, and 4. See Dkt. 2. This matter is before the Court on plaintiff's motions to strike affirmative defenses and to extend the time to complete discovery. See Dkts. 26, 27. The Court grants plaintiff's motion to strike to the extent that plaintiff has identified matters that are not appropriate affirmative defenses but denies the remainder of the motion. The Court also denies her[1] motion to extend the time to complete discovery because plaintiff fails to establish good cause.


         Plaintiff, who is housed in the Stafford Creek Corrections Center (“SCCC”) and who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings claims against Bruce Gage, Ryan Harrington, and Scott Light. See Dkt. 20, at 2. Plaintiff describes herself as a “male to female transgender prisoner” and alleges that during her confinement, after she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in August 2017, defendants-the head of the DOC's Care Review Committee and two medical personnel from SCCC-failed to timely provide plaintiff with necessary hormone therapy. See Dkt. 20, at 1, 3. On the basis of these allegations, plaintiff claims that her right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated by all defendants. See Dkt. 20, at 6. Plaintiff requests injunctive relief and damages. See Dkt. 20, at 6-7.

         In their answer, defendants raise multiple affirmative defenses. See Dkt. 23, at 5. Plaintiff has requested that this Court strike certain affirmative defenses under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). See Dkt. 26.

         This Court set the deadline for discovery to be completed as June 7, 2019. See Dkt. 24. Plaintiff additionally requests that the Court extend the deadline to complete discovery to August 15, 2019. See Dkt. 27.


         I. Timeliness

         Defendants argue that plaintiff's motion, which plaintiff filed more than 21 days from service of defendants' answer, was untimely and should be denied. See Dkt. 28, at 1; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). Plaintiff responds that because this Court has the discretion to sua sponte strike defenses and because she is a pro se litigant with only minimal allowable time in the law library, this Court should excuse her failure to timely file her motion to strike. See Dkt. 31, at 1- 2. Based on its sua sponte discretion under Rule 12(f) and because several of plaintiff's objections have merit, the Court declines to deny plaintiff's motion to strike on the basis that it is untimely and will reach plaintiff's arguments. Accord United States v. Wang, 404 F.Supp.2d 1155, 1157 (N.D. Cal. 2005).

         II. Merits

         A. General Principles

         Rule 12(f) authorizes this Court to strike “an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” “‘The 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[.]'” Whittlestone, Inc. v. Hand-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 973 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir. 1993), rev'd on other grounds by Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc., 510 U.S. 517 (1994)).

         “‘Immaterial' means that the matter has no bearing on the controversy before the court.'” In re, Inc. Secs. Litigation, 114 F.Supp.2d 955, 965 (C.D. Cal. 2000) (citing Fantasy, Inc., 984 F.2d at 1527). “Redundant” means needlessly repetitive or wholly foreign to the issues involved in the action. Sirois v. East West Partners, Inc., 285 F.Supp.3d 1152, 1161 (D. Haw. 2018). “‘Scandalous' includes allegations that cast a cruelly derogatory light on a party or other person.” In re, 114 F.Supp.2d at 965.

         At the outset, plaintiff argues that defendants' affirmative defenses fail to make out a claim under the heightened pleading standard set forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). However, to date, this district has not applied the heightened pleading standard to affirmative defenses. See Opico v. Convergent Outsourcing, Inc., 18-cv-1579-RSL, 2019 WL 1755312, at *1 n.1 (W.D. Wash. April 19, 2019); Cal. Expanded Metal Prods. Co. v. Klein, C18-0659-JLR, 2018 WL ...

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