United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
EAAN SILCOX, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Aaron John Silcox, Plaintiff,
MARK HUNTER, in his official capacity as Columbia County Sheriff and DILLON WESLEY MOORE, Defendants.
TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN United States District Judge
civil rights and wrongful death action is before the Court on
Plaintiff Eaan Silcox's Motion to Strike Defendant
Sheriff Mark Hunter's Seventeenth Affirmative Defense
(Doc. 18), to which Hunter responded (Doc. 19).
13, 2015, Columbia County Sheriff's deputies arrested
Aaron John Silcox for traffic offenses, probation violation,
and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. At the
time of his arrest, Silcox informed the deputies that he was
suicidal, and on June 14, 2015, he was taken to Meridian
Behavioral Healthcare pursuant to the Baker Act, Fla. Stat.
§ 394.463. The following day, Silcox was transferred to
Columbia County Detention Facility, where he was confined
alone in a cell equipped with a closed circuit video
surveillance camera. Dillon Wesley Moore, a detention officer
at the Facility, was assigned to monitor Silcox. On June 18,
2015, Silcox committed suicide by hanging himself in his
December 6, 2016, Plaintiff Eaan Silcox, as personal
representative of the Estate of Aaron John Silcox, filed a
two-count complaint against Defendants Mark Hunter and Dillon
Wesley Moore, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(Count I, against Hunter and Moore) and the Florida Wrongful
Death Act (Count II, against Hunter). (Compl., Doc. 1). Moore
filed an Answer and Affirmative Defenses on January 19, 2017
(Doc. 6), and Hunter filed an Amended Answer and Affirmative
Defenses on February 7, 2017 (Doc. 13). Plaintiff filed a
motion to strike Hunter's seventeenth affirmative defense
under Rule 12(f), Fed. R. Civ. P., (Doc. 18), which Hunter
opposes (Doc. 19).
12(f) provides that upon a party's motion, “the
court may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient
defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or
scandalous matter.” Pursuant to Rule 12(f), an
affirmative defense may be stricken if it is legally
insufficient, however, striking a defense is a
“‘drastic remedy[, ]' which is disfavored by
the courts.” Adams v. JP Morgan Chase Bank,
N.A., No. 3:11-CV-337-J-37MCR, 2011 WL 2938467, at *1
(M.D. Fla. July 21, 2011) (quoting Thompson v. Kindred
Nursing Centers East, LLC, 211 F.Supp.2d 1345, 1348
(M.D. Fla. 2002)). “An affirmative defense is
insufficient as a matter of law only if: (1) on the face of
the pleadings, it is patently frivolous, or (2) it is clearly
invalid as a matter of law.” Microsoft Corp. v.
Jesse's Computers & Repair, Inc., 211 F.R.D.
681, 683 (M.D. Fla. 2002) (citing Anchor Hocking Corp. v.
Jacksonville Elec. Authority, 419 F.Supp. 992, 1000
(M.D. Fla. 1976)). Moreover, “[a]n affirmative defense
will be held insufficient as a matter of law only if it
appears that the Defendant cannot succeed under any set of
facts which it could prove.” Florida Software Sys.,
Inc. v. Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., No.
97-2866-CIV-T-17B, 1999 WL 781812, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 16,
1999). Finally, “a court will not exercise its
discretion under the rule to strike a pleading unless the
matter sought to be omitted has no possible relationship to
the controversy, may confuse the issues, or otherwise
prejudice a party.” Id.
seventeenth affirmative defense states:
Plaintiff's claims are, in part or in whole, based on
medical care provided to the decedent. Accordingly, Count II
of Plaintiff's Complaint are [sic] barred by the
applicable statute of limitations and Plaintiff's failure
to comply with the notice and pre-suit requirements of
Florida's medical malpractice law.
(Doc. 13 at 7 ¶ 17). The parties agree that Plaintiff
has not alleged claims under Florida's medical
malpractice statute. (Doc. 18 at 3) (“Plaintiff's
claims are not based on medical negligence.”); (Doc. 19
at 3) (“Plaintiff is correct that he ‘did not
raise any claims under Florida's medical malpractice
statutes, Chapter 766, Florida Statutes.'”).
Plaintiff has not asserted claims against medical providers
or staff (only the sheriff in his official capacity and the
detention officer), and states that Hunter “does not .
. . meet the statutory definition of a health care
provider.” (Doc. 18 at 5).
Plaintiff asserts that discovery might reveal facts that
could give rise to a medical negligence claim against health
care providers, he states that at this time, there is no
good-faith basis to plead such a claim. (Doc. 18 at 5-6).
Thus, Hunter raises this affirmative defense seemingly out of
an abundance of caution, reasoning that Plaintiffs claims may
in fact arise under the medical malpractice statute. However
cautiously raised, this affirmative defense is nonetheless
insufficient as a matter of law. See Nobles v. Convergent
Healthcare Recoveries, Inc., No. 8:15-CV-1745-T-30MAP,
2015 WL 5098877, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 31, 2015) (striking
defendant's affirmative defense to an FCRA claim where
the complaint never alleges a violation of the FCRA). An
affirmative defense to a medical negligence claim cannot be
said to bear a relationship to a complaint that does not
allege a violation of the medical negligence statute, and
therefore, Hunter's seventeenth affirmative defense is
due to be stricken. See id However, should Plaintiff
timely amend the complaint to allege such a claim, Hunter is
permitted to raise the affirmative defense should it become
it is hereby
Plaintiff Silcox's Motion to Strike Defendant Sheriff
Mark Hunter's Seventeenth ...