United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
JADE A. COOPER, Plaintiff,
THE CITY OF ALVA, OKLAHOMA, a municipal corporation, Defendant.
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Strike
Affirmative Defenses (Doc. No. 13). Defendant has responded
(Doc. No. 17), and Plaintiff has replied (Doc. No. 18).
action, Plaintiff brings claims for violation of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e
et seq. (“Title VII”), and Oklahoma's
Anti-Discrimination Act (“OADA”) based on gender
discrimination. Plaintiff alleges she was terminated because
of her pregnancy in retaliation for requesting reasonable
accommodation. Compl. (Doc. No. 1) ¶¶ 3, 15.
Defendant filed its Answer (Doc. No. 7) to the Complaint on
March 15, 2019.
Motion, Plaintiff argues that defenses 4 and 7 of the
Defendants' Answer should be stricken as “legally
deficient or insufficiently pled.” Pl.'s Mot. at 2.
These defenses allege:
4. Plaintiff's claims may be time barred.
7. To Defendant's knowledge, Plaintiff did not comply
with the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act, and
compliance with it is a prerequisite to suing the City under
at 3, 4. Defendant responds 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 Defendant will pursue.
Def.'s Resp. at 3, 5.
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.
Knighten v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. CIV-17-683-D,
2018 WL 718533, at *2 (W.D. Okla. Feb. 5, 2018). “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).
of these considerations, the Court concludes that “at
least in the ordinary circumstance, 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-09-0397-HE, 2009 WL
10671291, at *1 (W.D. Okla. July 30, 2009). A bare,
laundry-list recitation of inapplicable defenses, however, is
clearly improper. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(2)
(cautioning that defenses should be “warranted”).
first objects to Defendant's assertion that
“Plaintiff's claims may be time barred, ”
stating that this defense fails “to provide even the
barest notice of what statute or regulation is actually
applicable in this case.” Pl.'s Mot. at 9.
Plaintiff asserts that Defendant should be required to
identify the statue of limitations referenced in this defense
and make a factual showing of why the defense applies.
See id. Because Plaintiff brings claims under only
two statutes, both of which rely upon the same factual
allegations, the Court concludes that Defense No. 4 of
untimeliness provides sufficient notice, is sufficiently
pled, and should not be stricken. See Duncan v. M.A.R.S.,
Inc., No. CIV-14-825-D, 2014 WL 5681185, at *2 (W.D.
Okla. Nov. 4, 2014) (declining to strike affirmative defense
where only one claim was brought).
next objects that Defendant's contention that
“Plaintiff did not comply with the Oklahoma
Governmental Tort Claims Act, and compliance with it is a
prerequisite to suing the City under the OADA” is
legally insufficient and fails as a matter of law.
See Pl.'s Mot. at 10. Plaintiff appears to argue
that this defense attempts to immunize Defendant from her
federal claim for discrimination under Title
VII.See Id. at 10-11. Plaintiff alleges violations of
both the OADA and Title VII. See Compl. ¶¶