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Blake v. Batmasian

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

February 27, 2017

STACEY BLAKE, and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES BATMASIAN, an individual d/b/a Investments Limited, and individually, and MARTA BATMASIAN, an individual d/b/a Investments Limited and individually, and LSA MANAGEMENT INC., a Florida corporation, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION ON MOTIONS TO STRIKE

          KENNETH A. MARRA United States District Judge

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendant's Motion to Strike Immaterial, Impertinent and Scandalous Matter From Third Amended Complaint [DE 179] (“Second Motion to Strike”); Defendants James and Marta Batmasian's Motion to Strike and/or Exclude Supplemental Filing by Plaintiff and Request for Sanctions Against Plaintiffs' Counsel [DE 281] (“Third Motion to Strike”); and Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Supplement Nunc Pro Tunc [DE 292]. The Court has carefully considered all relevant filings, including the motions, responses, replies, supplements, notice of authority, and is otherwise fully advised in the premises.

         Standard of Review[1]

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that “the court may order stricken from any pleading ... any redundant, immaterial, [2] impertinent[3] or scandalous[4] matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). The purpose of a motion to strike is to clean up the pleadings, remove irrelevant or otherwise confusing materials, and avoid unnecessary forays into immaterial matters. Liberty Media Holdings, LLC v. Wintice Group, Inc., No. 6:10-cv-44-Orl-19GJK, 2010 WL 2367227, *1 (M.D. Fla. June 14, 2010); Hutchings v. Fed. Ins. Co., 2008 WL 4186994 at *2 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 8, 2008). It is not intended to procure the dismissal of all or part of a complaint. Williams v. Delray Auto Mall, Inc., 289 F.R.D. 697, 700 (S.D. Fla. 2013). Granting a motion to strike is a drastic remedy and is disfavored by the courts. Nash v. O.R. Colan Group, LLC, No. 12-60759-CIV, 2012 WL 4338817, *1 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 20, 2012) (citing Thompson v. Kindred Nursing Ctrs. E., LLC, 211 F.Supp.2d 1345, 1348 (M.D. Fla. 2002)); Tracfone Wireless, Inc. v. Access Telecom, Inc., 642 F.Supp.2d 1354, 1361 (S.D. Fla. 2009). If there is any doubt as to whether under any contingency the matter may raise an issue, the motion should be denied. Therefore, a motion to strike will be granted only if the matter sought to be omitted has no possible relationship to the controversy, may confuse the issues, or otherwise prejudice a party. 2 James W. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 12.21[2], at 2317 (2d ed. 1992).

         Discussion

         In the Second Motion to Strike, [5] Defendants object to certain allegations contained within paragraphs 39, 42, 52 and 95 of the Third Amended Complaint (DE 173). It is asserted that these allegations are irrelevant and have no purpose other than to disparage, harass, belittle, and embarrass the Defendants and their counsel, and to inflame and prejudice the trier of fact against Defendants.

         Paragraph 39 reads:

39. The Batmasians have gross revenue which exceeds $500, 000 for each of the past three (3) years, and as of December 31, 2010 claimed to have total assets $1, 676, 635, 926, and it has only grown since then, and the vast majority of these assets consist of real estate owned by the Batmasians jointly or in the name of Marta Batmasian.

DE 173. Defendants argue that this paragraph should be stricken because “it does not relate to any disputed issue in this action[.]” DE 268 at 3. Defendants also object to the allegations as to their personal wealth and the allegation that “it has only grown since then, ” asserting these allegations are “immaterial and impertinent to the FLSA claim[, ] . . . and serve[s] no other purpose than to appeal to class bias.” DE 179 at 7.

         These arguments are rejected. The fact that Defendants now admit that the FLSA applies to them under enterprise coverage because their annual gross volume of business is not less than $500, 00 does not mean that Plaintiffs allegation of such a key element of their claim should be stricken. See 29 U.S.C. § 203(s)(1). In addition, Defendants' objections to allegations regarding the Batmasians' personal wealth is rejected. As previously stated in this Court's ruling on the First Motion to Strike, “allegations regarding the personal financial worth of the Batmasians is directly relevant to the establishment of either individual or enterprise coverage.” DE 137 at 4. Concerns about inflaming and prejudicing the trier of fact against Defendants is without foundation. The jury is only exposed to evidence admitted at trial.

         The Court is next directed to Footnote 1 to Paragraph 42, and Paragraph 52, which read:

42(1). The Defendant disputes that James Baker was their controller and are taking the position that he was their chief financial officer, but Baker was never listed as a chief financial officer on any corporate or partnership papers filed with the State of Florida, and witness George Sigalos knows that Baker was the controller and not the chief financial officer, because the Batmasians introduced Baker as being their controller to him on more than one occasion.
52. The Batmasians have the power to hire and fire and exercise it regularly, as ...

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