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Melissa Smith v. City of New Smyrna Beach

December 7, 2011

MELISSA SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF NEW SMYRNA BEACH, DEFENDANT.



ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses (Doc. 26) filed by the Plaintiff, Melissa Smith ("Smith"), and the response (Doc. 28) filed by the Defendant, New Smyrna Beach (the "City").

In this gender discrimination case, Smith, a firefighter and paramedic, contends that she suffered sexual harassment and, after complaining about it, retaliation. She has asserted claims under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Florida Civil Rights Act. In its Amended Answer (Doc. 25), the City raises 16 affirmative defenses. Smith seeks to have all 16 stricken for failing to satisfy the pleading requirements set forth in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

Without reaching the issue of whether Twombly and Iqbal apply, the Court concludes that the affirmative defenses must be stricken. The affirmative defenses suffer from a host of deficiencies, including the fact that a number of them are not affirmative defenses but mere denials of one or more elements of the Plaintiff's claims.*fn1 Others appear to describe valid affirmative defenses but fail to assert that the defense applies in this case.*fn2 The City's final affirmative defense is nothing more than an assertion of a right to amend its answer if it comes up with any more affirmative defenses. (Doc. 25 at 6).

The purported affirmative defenses share one shortcoming: They are entirely devoid of specifics. They contain nothing from which the reader could conclude that the City actually believes that they apply in this case. Rather, the affirmative defenses appear to be simply a generic list of defendant-friendly conclusions that could conceivably be reached in an employment discrimination case. Even when challenged, the City provides no support for its pleading, nothing to suggest that it has reviewed this matter and has a good faith belief that these issues will need to be resolved. While affirmative defenses may not have to meet the Twombly/Iqbal standard, they must be more than boilerplate.

In consideration of the foregoing, it is hereby

ORDERED that the Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses is GRANTED, and the Defendant's affirmative defenses are STRICKEN. Should it wish to do so, the City may file an amended answer and affirmative defenses on or before December 19, 2011.

Copies furnished to: Counsel of Record ...


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