United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
P. JORDAN IIICHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Charles Blount asks the Court to strike some of Defendant
Johnson Controls, Inc.'s (“JCI”) affirmative
defenses as insufficiently pleaded. See Pl.'s
Mot. . For the reasons that follow, the Court grants
Blount's Motion to Strike  as to defenses based on
the Mississippi Constitution and Ellerth/Faragher.
The motion is otherwise denied.
Facts and Procedural Posture
filed his Complaint against JCI on October 25, 2017, alleging
that JCI violated the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), see 42 U.S.C. § 12112,
when it failed to hire him, see Pl.'s Compl.
. JCI responded on December 20, 2017, asserting 19
affirmative defenses. Def.'s Answer . Less than a
month later-and before any discovery-Blount moved to strike
16 of JCI's affirmative defenses asserting that they
failed to meet the pleading standard announced in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) and
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). See Pl.'s Mot. .
to strike fall under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f),
which states: “The court may strike from a pleading an
insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter.” “A Rule 12(f)
motion serves to ‘avoid the expenditure of time and
money that must arise from litigating spurious issues by
dispensing with those issues prior to trial.'”
Zytax, Inc. v. Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc.,
No. H-09-2582, 2010 WL 2219179, at *5 (S.D. Tex. May 28,
2010) (citations omitted).
said, “[m]otions to strike defenses are generally
disfavored and rarely granted.” Solis v.
Bruister, No. 4:10-CV-77-DPJ-FKB, 2012 WL 776028, at *7
(S.D.Miss. Mar. 8, 2012) (citation omitted). Such relief is
warranted only when the defense “cannot, as a matter of
law, succeed under any circumstance.” United States
v. Renda, 709 F.3d 472, 479 (5th Cir. 2013). And
“if there is a question of law or fact regarding a
particular defense, a court must deny a motion to
strike.” Bertoniere v. First Mark Homes, Inc.,
No. 2:09-CV-156-DCB-MTP, 2010 WL 729931, at *1 (S.D.Miss.
Feb. 25, 2010) (citations omitted).
a motion to strike “generally should not be granted
absent a showing of prejudice to the moving party.”
Conn v. United States, No. 3:10-CV-300-CWR, 2011 WL
2117969, at *5 (S.D.Miss. May 27, 2011); accord Davis v.
Hinds Cty., Miss., No. 3:16-CV-674-DPJ-FKB, 2017 WL
2269010, at *2 (S.D.Miss. May 23, 2017); see also 5C
Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 1382 (3d ed.) (noting
general agreement that Rule 12(f) motions should be denied
absent showing that defense “may cause some form of
the parties spend considerable time disputing the applicable
pleading standard for affirmative defenses. In Woodfield
v. Bowman, the Fifth Circuit stated that the standards
were the same for complaints and defenses, and as such,
defendants were required to “plead an affirmative
defense with enough specificity or factual particularity to
give the plaintiff ‘fair notice' of the defense
that is being advanced.” 193 F.3d 354, 362 (5th Cir.
course, Twombly redefined fair notice as it applies
to complaints filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a). To avoid Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a plaintiff must
plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. The question is whether Twombly should apply to
affirmative defenses under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
8(b) and (c) the same as it applies to complaints under Rule
8(a). Blount says it must and that ruling otherwise would be
analysis must start with the text of Rule 8, which reveals
that its subparts are not coterminous. Rule 8(a) governs
claims for relief and provides that such pleadings must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). But the “showing” required
under Rule 8(a) is not found in the rules governing defenses.
Specifically, Rule 8(b)(1) provides, “[A] party must .
. . state in short and plain terms its defenses to each claim
asserted against it, ” and 8(c)(1) provides says
“a party must affirmatively state any avoidance or
affirmative defense.” These distinctions matter because
Twombly was premised on Rule 8(a)'s unique
language. According to the Supreme Court, the plausibility
standard “reflects the threshold requirement of Rule
8(a)(2) that the ‘plain statement' possess enough
heft to ‘sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557
(emphasis added). Neither Rule 8(b) nor Rule 8(c) requires
the pleader to show anything.
the Fifth Circuit has not squarely addressed whether
Twombly overruled Woodfield, it continues
to apply Woodfield when addressing affirmative
defenses. See, e.g., LSREF2 Baron, L.L.C. v.
Tauch, 751 F.3d 394, 398 (5th Cir. 2014) (“A
defendant must plead with ‘enough specificity or
factual particularity to give the plaintiff “fair
notice” of the ...