United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division
BROADCAST MUSIC, INC., WELSH WITCH MUSIC, FOREIGN IMPORTED PRODUCTIONS AND PUBLISHING INC., RICK'S MUSIC, INC., RED SEA SONGS, SONY/ATV SONGS, LLC, R AND R NOMAD PUBLISHING COMPANY, 4U2ASKY ENTERTAINMENT INC. and THE LUMINEERS, Plaintiffs,
LEIGH ANN PIPPIN, LLC and LEIGH ANN PIPPIN, Defendants.
JAMZ'S S. MOODY. JR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to
Strike (Doc. 14) Defendants' Answer (Doc. 13). Defendants
failed to respond to the Motion, and the Court ordered the
Defendants to show cause why the Court should not consider
the Motion without a response from Defendants. Defendants
responded to the Order to show cause on April 27, 2017 (Doc.
18), but did not respond to Plaintiffs' Motion. Having
considered the Motion, Defendants' response to the Order
to Show Cause, and the relevant law, the Court concludes
Plaintiffs' Motion should be granted.
Leigh Ann Pippin is the managing member of Leigh Ann Pippin,
LLC, which operates 1884 Restaurant and Bar in Eustis,
Florida. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have been in
repeated violation of the Copyright Act for not buying the
necessary licenses to play music from Plaintiff
“BMI's Repertoire.” (Doc. 1, ¶3). After
allegedly reaching out to Defendants more than 75 times and
sending cease and desist notices, Plaintiffs allege they were
forced to bring this lawsuit for multiple claims of willful
sued Defendants on February 13, 2017, for eight claims of
copyright infringement in a single-count Complaint (Doc. 1).
Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin, proceeding pro se, filed
an Answer (Doc. 13) on March 17, 2017, on behalf of herself
and Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC. The Answer is one page and fails
to respond to the individual allegations in the Complaint.
The Answer places the blame for the alleged copyright
infringement on independent contractors Defendants hired, and
generally denies having committed any violations. Plaintiffs
now argue the Answer must be stricken for two reasons, and
the Court agrees with both.
Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC is not permitted to proceed
without counsel. Palazzo v. Gulf Oil Corp., 764 F.2d
1381, 1385 (11th Cir. 1985); Energy Lighting Mgmt., LLC
v. Kinder, 363 F.Supp.2d 1331, 1332 (M.D.Fla.2005);
FTC v. RCA Credit Servs., LLC, 2010 WL 2927688, at
*1 n. 4 (M.D.Fla. July 21, 2010). The Court explained this in
its Order to Show Cause, and Defendants' only response
was that it cannot afford counsel. While the Court is
sympathetic to the position in which this places Defendant,
the Court cannot re-write the law to allow an LLC to defend
an action unrepresented by counsel. So the Answer must be
stricken as to Defendant Leigh Ann Pippin, LLC.
the Answer must also be stricken as to Leigh Ann Pippin
individually because it fails to comport with the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. The Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure provide that “[t]he court may strike from a
pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant,
immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). While pro se pleadings are held
to a less stringent standard and are to be liberally
construed, Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d
1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998); litigants appearing pro
se must adhere to the procedural requirements of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as well as the Local Rules
for the Middle District of Florida. McNeil v. United
States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
Answer fails to comport with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
8 and 10. Rule 8 provides as follows:
(b) Defenses; Admissions and Denials.
(1) In General. In responding to a pleading, a party
(A) state in short and plain terms its defenses to each claim
asserted against it; and
(B) admit or deny the allegations asserted against it by an