United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY S. FRISBY, Plaintiff,
SAMCO ENTERPRISES, INC., Defendant.
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Strike (Doc.
No. 11) certain defenses asserted by Defendant in its Answer
(Doc. No. 7). Defendant has filed a Response (Doc. No.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant, his former
employer, improperly discriminated against Plaintiff on the
basis of age in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act and the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act.
See Compl. at 1-2. In its Answer, Defendant raised
18 “affirmative and other defenses, ”
see Answer at 3-4. Plaintiff's Motion seeks to
strike four of these as legally insufficient and having the
potential “to unnecessarily confuse, complicate and
prolong the case.” Pl.'s Mot. at 1.
Standard of Decision
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, ” id. R. 8(c)(1). Under Rule 12(f) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court may
“strike from a pleading” “an insufficient
defense or any redundane, immaterial, impertinent, or
scandalous matter.” Id. R. 12(f). Rule 12(f)
relief, however, is generally a “drastic remedy”
and “must not be granted unless, as a matter of law,
the defense cannot succeed under any circumstances.”
Knighten v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. CIV-17-683-D,
2018 WL 718533, at *2 (W.D. Okla. Feb. 5, 2018) (internal
quotation marks omitted). “A defense should not be stricken
if there is any real doubt about its validity, and the
benefit of any doubt should be given to the pleader.”
Sender v. Mann, 423 F.Supp.2d 1155, 1163 (D. Colo.
2006) (alteration and internal quotation marks omitted).
“[A] more abbreviated statement of the defense,
considered in context with the complaint to which the
defenses are addressed, will sufficiently apprise a party of
the nature of the defense for pleading purposes.”
Henson v. Supplemental Health Care Staffing
Specialists, No. CIV-09-397-HE, 2009 WL 10671291, at *1
(W.D. Okla. July 30, 2009). Accordingly, unless the
challenged allegations have no possible relation or logical
connection to the subject matter of the controversy and may
cause come sort of significant prejudice to one or more of
the parties to the action a motion to strike should be
Nootbaar v. Alderwoods (Okla.), Inc., No.
CIV-19-110-D, 2019 WL 3558182, at *2 (W.D. Okla. Aug. 5,
2019) (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks
Ratification, Waiver, Estoppel, and Laches
Answer, Defendant alleges: “Samco asserts the defense
of ratification, waiver, estoppel and laches.” Answer
at 3 (No. 7). Plaintiff objects that this “shotgun
listing” is insufficient to provide fair notice of its
applicability to Plaintiff's claims. Pl.'s Mot. at 4.
Defendant objects that these defenses are sufficiently pled
“to refute Plaintiff's allegation he was fired
because of his age and because he claims he opposed age
discrimination.” Def.'s Resp. at 4.
Court finds that the listing of these terms, without any
accompanying explanation, leaves the “applicability
thereof to the claims . . . unclear.”
Nootbaar, 2019 WL 3558182, at *3. Defendant shall be
permitted to reassert any of these defenses “in a more
detailed manner” within the time allowed for amendment
of pleadings to be set at the forthcoming status and
scheduling conference, however. Id.
Failure to Use Internal Complaint Procedures
alleges: “Plaintiff's claims are barred, in whole
or in part, as Samco had installed readily accessible
employment policies, with supervisory bypass, for reporting
and resolving complaints.” Answer at 3 (No. 8).
Plaintiff argues that this defense should be stricken because
neither an employer's antidiscrimination policy nor an
employee's failure to use an employer's grievance
procedure constitutes a defense to a claim of discrimination.
See Pl.'s Mot. at 5 (citing cases). Defendant
responds that the Tenth Circuit actually has applied such a
defense in the ...