United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
JUDY K. WILKINS, Plaintiff,
GREENS SERVICE COMPANY, LLC, and THE GREENS COUNTRY CLUB, LLC, Defendants.
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Strike
Affirmative Defenses (Doc. No. 13). Defendants have jointly
responded (Doc. No. 15), and Plaintiff has replied (Doc. No.
16). Having reviewed the parties' submissions and the
relevant record, the Court denies Plaintiff's Motion.
action, Plaintiff brings claims of unpaid overtime in
violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”) and age discrimination in violation of
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”)
and the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act
(“OADA”). Defendants jointly filed their answer
to the complaint on May 24, 2019. See Doc. No. 11.
In her Motion, Plaintiff argues that the defenses set forth
in paragraphs 31, 35, 36, 37, and 41 of the Defendants'
Answer should be stricken as “legally deficient or
insufficiently pled.” Pl.'s Mot. at 2. These
31. The Greens acted in good faith and with a good faith
belief that its actions relative to Plaintiff were lawful.
35. The decisions and actions taken by The Greens were not
willful, but were taken in good faith and based upon a
reasonable belief that all such actions did not violate the
Fair Labor Standards Act, or other applicable laws or
regulations, and should not subject it to liquidated damages.
36. The Greens denies liability, and alternatively asserts
that The Greens acted in good faith and on reasonable grounds
at all times, and thus, cannot be liable for liquidated
damages under the FLSA.
37. The claims asserted are precluded because Plaintiff was
exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor
Standards Act. In light of the duties requested of and/or
performed by Plaintiff, Plaintiff is exempt as, without
limitation, a bona fide administrative employee.
41. The Greens reserves the right to amend this Answer to
assert any counterclaims or additional defenses, including in
particular those defenses set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(c),
when and if, in the course of its investigation, discovery,
or preparation for trial, it becomes appropriate to assert
Answer (Doc. No. 11) at 5-7.
respond that the Twombly/Iqbal standard does not
apply to affirmative defenses and that the challenged
defenses provide Plaintiff with fair notice of what defenses
and affirmative defenses Defendants will pursue.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure prescribes that, when
responding to a pleading, a party must “state in short
and plain terms its defenses to each claim asserted against
it, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(1)(A), and must
“affirmatively state any avoidance or affirmative
defense, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(c)(1). Under Rule 12(f) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court may
“strike from a pleading an insufficient defense . . .
.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). Rule 12(f) relief, however, is
generally considered a drastic remedy and is disfavored.
See Knighten v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. CIV-17-683-D,
2018 WL 718533, at *2 (W.D. Okla. Feb. 5, 2018).
Tenth Circuit has not expressly addressed whether the
Twombly/Iqbal standard governs affirmative defenses,
and judges within this judicial district have reached
different conclusions. See Bors v. Okla. ex rel. Bd. of
Regents for Reg'l Univ. Sys. of Okla., No.
CIV-18-1235-R, 2019 WL 1177984, at *2 n.1 (W.D. Okla. Mar.
13, 2019) (collecting cases). Absent any controlling
authority, the Court declines to apply the
Twombly/Iqbal pleading standard to affirmative
defenses. The Court is guided by the considerations outlined
in 5C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice & Procedure, § 1381 (3d ed. 2019),
which provides that “[t]he better view is that the
plausibility standard only applies to the pleading of
affirmative claims for relief, given that [Twombly
and Iqbal] were interpreting the ‘showing'
language of Rule 8(a)(2)-language that does not appear in
Rule 8(b) or Rule 8(c)-and given the different circumstances
facing claimants (who have months or years to prepare their
claims) compared with those facing respondents to claims (who
typically have a few weeks to prepare a response).”
See also Creative Consumer Concepts, Inc. v.
Kreisler, 563 F.3d 1070, 1076 (10th Cir. 2009)
(post-Twombly decision stating that “the
liberal pleading rules established by the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure apply to the pleading of affirmative
defenses, ” and ...