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Sream Inc. v. Grateful J's, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

January 4, 2018

SREAM, INC. a California Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
GRATEFUL J'S, INC., a Florida Corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER

          JOHN J. O' SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendant's Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and Incorporated Memorandum of Law (DE # 44, 11/10/17). This motion was referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636. See Endorsed Order (DE# 45, 11/13/17).

         BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff has alleged two causes of action[1] against the defendant: (1) False Designation of Origin/Unfair Competition under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) (Count III) and (2) violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (Count IV). See Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (DE# 13, 4/25/17). On October 27, 2017, the defendant filed its answer and asserted seven affirmative defenses. See Defendant's Answer and Affirmative Defen][ ]ses to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (D.E. 13) (DE# 42, 10/27/17) (hereinafter "Answer").

         On November 10, 2017, the plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking to strike five affirmative defenses. See Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendant's Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and Incorporated Memorandum of Law (DE # 44, 11/10/17) (hereinafter "Motion"). The defendant filed its response in opposition on November 27, 2017. See Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Affirmative Defen[ses] to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [D.E. 44] for Failure to Comply with Local Rule 7.1 (a)(3) (DE# 47, 11/27/17) (hereinafter "Response"). The plaintiff filed its reply on December 4, 2017. See Plaintiff's Reply to the Defendant's Memorandum in Opposition to the Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Answer and Affirmative Defenses (DE# 49, 12/4/17) (hereinafter "Reply").

         This matter is ripe for adjudication.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court may strike "an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). Motions to strike are generally disfavored and are usually denied unless the allegations have no possible relation to the controversy and may cause prejudice to one of the parties. Pandora Jewelers 1995, Inc. v. Pandora Jewelry, LLC No. 09-61490-CIV, 2010 WL 5393265, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 21, 2010) (citation omitted). Affirmative defenses fall under the general pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and should be stricken if they fail to recite more than bare-bones conclusory allegations, id. at *2 (quoting Home Mgmt. Solutions, Inc. v. Prescient. Inc., No. 07-20608-CIV, 2007 WL 2412834, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 21, 2007)). "Although Rule 8 does not obligate a defendant to set forth detailed factual allegations, a defendant must give the plaintiff 'fair notice' of the nature of a defense and the grounds on which it rests." Tsavaris v. Pfizer, Inc., 310 F.R.D. 678, 682 (S.D. Fla. 2015) (citing Adams v. Jumpstart Wireless Corp., 294 F.R.D. 668, 671 (S.D. Fla. 2013); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Affirmative defenses should be stricken when they are insufficient as a matter of law. Pandora Jewelers 1995, Inc., 2010 WL 5393265, at *2 (quoting Microsoft Corp. v. Jesse's Computers and Repairs, Inc., 211 F.R.D. 681, 683 (M.D. Fla. 2002)). A defense is legally insufficient only if the pleading on its face is patently frivolous, or it is clearly invalid as a matter of law. Id.

         ANALYSIS

         1. Failure to Confer and Defendant's Request for Sanctions

         At the outset, the defendant argues that the instant motion should be denied and the defendant be awarded attorney's fees because the plaintiff failed to comply with its duty to confer with opposing counsel prior to filing the instant motion as required by Local Rule 7.1 (a)(3). See Response (DE# 4-7).

         Local Rule 7.1(a)(3) states in part:

Prior to filing any motion in a civil case, except a motion for injunctive relief, for judgment on the pleadings, for summary judgment, to dismiss or to permit maintenance of a class action, to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or to involuntarily dismiss an action, for garnishment or other relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 64, or otherwise properly filed ex parte under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and these Local Rules, or a petition to enforce or vacate an arbitration award, counsel for the movant shall confer (orally or in writing), or make reasonable effort to confer (orally or in writing), with all parties or non-parties who may be affected by the relief sought in the motion in a good faith effort ...

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