United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
matter comes before the Court pursuant to Plaintiff Levi
Atkinson's Motion to Strike Defendants' Affirmative
Defenses, or Alternatively, for More Definite Statement (Doc.
# 26), which was filed on January 4, 2018. Defendants MK
Centennial Maritime B.V. and MMS Co., Inc. filed a Response
in Opposition to the Motion (Doc. # 27) on January 17, 2018.
For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the Motion with
respect to the sixth and seventh Defenses. The Motion is
allegedly sustaining personal injuries in a boating accident,
Plaintiff filed a state court action against Defendants.
After being served with the Amended Complaint on September 5,
2017, Defendants removed the case on October 5, 2017, on the
basis of admiralty jurisdiction. (Doc. # 1). Defendants
separately filed their Answers and Affirmative Defenses (Doc.
## 22, 23) on December 4, 2017. On January 4, 2018, Plaintiff
moved to strike Defendants' second, third, fourth, sixth,
and seventh Defenses. To summarize, the second, third, and
fourth Defenses address comparative fault. The sixth Defense
seeks a set-off for amounts collected from collateral
sources. And, the seventh Defense asserts that, in maritime
cases, prejudgment interest on non-economic losses is
Motion to Strike
defenses are subject to the general pleading requirements of
Rule 8. Rule 8(b)(1)(A), Fed. R. Civ. P., requires that a
party "state in short plain terms its defenses to each
claim asserted against it." Affirmative defenses are
also evaluated against the touchstone of Rule 12(f), Fed. R.
Civ. P., which states, "The court may strike from a
pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant,
immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Although
the Court has broad discretion in ruling on a motion to
strike, such motions are disfavored due to their
“drastic nature.” Royal Ins. Co. of Am. v.
M/Y Anastasia, No. 95-cv-60498/RV, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
15595, at *10 (N.D. Fla. Jan. 30, 1997).
“[a]n affirmative defense will only be stricken . . .
if the defense is ‘insufficient as a matter of
law.'” Microsoft Corp. v. Jesse's Computers
& Repair, Inc., 211 F.R.D. 681, 683 (M.D. Fla.
2002)(citation omitted). 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.” Id. “To the
extent that a defense puts into issue relevant and
substantial legal and factual questions, it is
‘sufficient' and may survive a motion to strike,
particularly when there is no showing of prejudice to the
movant.” Reyher v. Trans World Airlines, Inc.,
881 F.Supp. 574, 576 (M.D. Fla. 1995)(citation omitted).
Motion for a More Definite Statement
12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states,
“a party may move for a more definite statement of a
pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which
is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably
prepare a response. The motion . . . must point out the
defects complained of and the details desired.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). “A Rule 12(e) motion is appropriate
if the pleading is so vague or ambiguous that the party
cannot reasonably respond, even with a simple denial, in good
faith, without prejudice to itself.” Ramirez v.
FBI, No. 8:10-cv-1819-T23TBM, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
132271, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 14, 2010).
considering such a motion, the Court should be mindful of the
liberal pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, pursuant to which a short and plain statement of
the claim will suffice.” Betancourt v. Marine Cargo
Mgmt., Inc., 930 F.Supp. 606, 608 (S.D. Fla. 1996). Such
a motion is “intended to provide a remedy for an
unintelligible pleading, rather than a vehicle for obtaining
greater detail.” Aventura Cable Corp. v.
Rifkin/Narragansett S. Fla. CATV Ltd. P'ship, 941
F.Supp. 1189, 1195 (S.D. Fla. 1996).
affirmative defense is “one that admits to the
complaint, but avoids liability, wholly, or partly, by new
allegations of excuse, justification or other negating
matters.” Bluewater Trading, LLC v. Willmar USA,
Inc., No. 07-cv-61284, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108191, at
*2 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 9, 2008). Rule 8(c)(1) includes a list of
affirmative defenses, such as contributory negligence,
assumption of risk, estoppel, laches, res judicata, and
the Defenses at issue are not true affirmative defenses. That
is, they do not admit the allegations of the Amended
Complaint but avoid liability based upon some negating
factor. Nevertheless, the Court is not inclined to strike ...