UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
September 2, 2008
EDENA AMENTLER, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
69 MAIN STREET, LLC, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Tonianne J. Bongiovanni United States Magistrate Judge
This matter being opened to the Court upon Motion by Plaintiffs asserting that "Defendants' multiple Answers with affirmative defenses ... with the sole exception the Fox & Hound Answer ... should be stricken without prejudice" [Docket Entry No. 20]*fn1 ; and Plaintiffs asserting that "[i]n addition to jointly filing an omnibus answer as to the common allegations and certain counts, each defendant filed their own separate answer as to the common allegations and to certain other counts"; and Plaintiffs further asserting that "[a] cursory review of the separate and multiple 'answers' to the Amended Complaint filed by each of the Defendants in this case reveals facially confusing, evasive and inconsistent 'answers' which warrant being stricken from the record in their entirety"; and Plaintiffs further asserting that the Answers do not comport with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 ("Defendants' Answers are both inconsistent and confused") and are violative of Rule 1 ("Defendants ... [seek] to deprive this Court, the finder of fact, and Plaintiffs of a full and fair opportunity to know and understand each Defendant's answer to the allegations asserted"); and
Defendants having opposed the instant Motion, generally asserting that their separate answers were properly filed within the mores of the Court; and the Court noting that FED.R.CIV.P. 12(f) permits a court, upon motion, to strike from a pleading an "insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter"; and the Court further noting that "[b]ecause of the drastic nature of the remedy, however, motions to strike are usually 'viewed with disfavor' and will generally 'be denied unless the allegations have no possible relation to the controversy and may cause prejudice to one of the parties, or if the allegations confuse the issues.'"(Garlanger v. Verbeke, 223 F. Supp. 2d 596, 609 (D.N.J. 2002); see also J. & A. Realty v. City of Asbury Park, 763 F. Supp. 85, 87 (D.N.J. 1991)("Rule 12(f) motions are disfavored, especially in the absence of prejudice")(citing Abrams v. Lightolier, Inc., 702 F. Supp. 509, 511 (D.N.J.1988))); and the Court further noting that a motion to strike shall not be granted unless the insufficiency of a defense is "clearly apparent" (Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 789 F.2d 181, 188 (3d Cir.1986)); and the Court further noting that the purpose of a motion to strike is to simplify the pleadings and save time and expense by excising from a pleading "any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter" which will not have any possible bearing on the outcome of the litigation (see Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Ivax Co., 77 F. Supp. 2d 606, 619 (D.N.J.2000)(citing Glenside West Corp. v. Exxon Co., U.S.A., 761 F. Supp. 1100, 1114-15 (D.N.J.1991)); and the Court further noting that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that 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)(West 2008)); and the Court further noting that this rule "is not designed to strike inartistic pleadings or to provide a more definite statement ..." (Tr. of Hotel Indus. Pension Fund v. Carol Mgmt. Corp., 880 F.Supp. 1548, 1551 (S.D.Fla.1995)(citing 5 CHARLES A. WRIGHT & ARTHUR R. MILLER, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 at 590-92 (1969))); and the Court finding that none of the challenged Answers can be said to have no possible relation to the matter; and the Court further finding that none of the portions thereof cause prejudice to any party, nor do any confuse the issues; and the Court further finding that none of the answers challenged are clearly insufficient; and the Court further finding that the affirmative defenses do not contain any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter; and the Court further finding that Defendants' responses easily satisfy the requirement of Rule 8; and the Court further finding that Plaintiffs rely exclusively on Azza Int'l. Corp. v. Gas Research Inst., 204 F.R.D. 109 (N.D.Ill. 2001) for the notion that "[u]nder FED.R.CIV.P. 7 and 8, a district court is permitted to strike multiple, separate answers to a complaint" where "[t]he multiplicity of defendants' 'answers' makes each purported answer 'substantially less informative'"; and the Court further finding that although the Northern District of Illinios in Azza concluded that the common counsel of three separate defendants should have filed one answer rather than three "when one would obviously do -- and, indeed, would do better" (204 F.R.D. at 109), the Azza Court, though surely frustrated with defense counsel, did not consider Rule 8's provision that "[a]n allegation ... is admitted if a responsive pleading is required and the allegation is not denied," and that if "a responsive pleading is not required, an allegation is considered denied or avoided" ( FED.R.CIV.P 8(b)(6)(West 2008)); and the Court therefore concluding, to the extent Plaintiff seeks that It consider non-binding precedent in making Its determination, that Azza does not address directly the propriety of multiple complementary answers, and whether such answers warrant their striking in the entirety; and the Court further concluding that the "drastic" relief sought though the instant Motion is not warranted at this time; and this matter having been considered pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 78 and for good cause shown;
IT IS on this 2nd day of September, 2008,
ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion to Dismiss Defendants' Multiple Answers of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint [Docket Entry No. 20] is DENIED; and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court terminate this Motion [Docket Entry No. 20] accordingly.