United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ALVA JOHNSON, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT, INC., DONALD J. TRUMP, in his individual capacity, Defendants.
WILLIAM F. JUNG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes to the Court on a Motion to Strike Portions of
Plaintiff's Complaint from Defendant Donald J. Trump
(“Trump”) and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
(“DJTPI”), Dkt. 30, and a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint from DJTPI, Dkt. 32. Plaintiff has
filed oppositions in response to both motions, Dkt. 38-39, to
which Defendants have replied, Dkt. 43-44. The Court heard
argument from all counsel on June 5, 2019.
three-count Complaint alleges battery by Defendant Trump in
Count I. Dkt. 1 at 33. Plaintiff also seeks recovery against
DJTPI for wage-based gender discrimination in violation of
the Equal Pay Act (Count II) and race discrimination under 42
U.S.C. § 1981 (Count III). Id. at 34-36.
currently stated, the Complaint presents a political lawsuit,
not a tort and wages lawsuit. Plaintiff will receive a fair
day in court, but the Court will try a tort and wages
dispute-not a political one. If Plaintiff wishes to make a
political statement or bring a claim for political purposes,
this is not the forum.
Court dismisses the Complaint without prejudice. Plaintiff
may file an amended complaint within thirty days consistent
with this order. In reciting the facts as alleged, the Court
considers well-pled facts as true for both a motion to
dismiss, Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284
(11th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted), and a motion to strike,
DeJesus v. Cigna Corp., No. 6:17-cv-1208-ORL-41TBS,
2018 WL 375579, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 11, 2018) (citation
TO COUNT ONE
was a campaign worker for DJTPI during Defendant Trump's
presidential election. Count I alleges that at an August 24,
2016 election rally for Defendant Trump in Tampa, Defendant
Trump grabbed Plaintiff by the hand, held her hand, and then
kissed her without her consent. Plaintiff further alleges
that she turned her head to avoid the kiss, and Defendant
kissed her on the side of her mouth. She felt humiliated by
this contact and, shortly thereafter, she was disappointed
because her coworkers were aware of the incident and were
joking about it.
October 7, 2016, a recording became public in which Defendant
Trump stated in part, “You know I'm automatically
attracted to beautiful - I just start kissing them. It's
like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait.” Dkt.
1 at 15-16. Plaintiff heard the statement, which contained
highly lascivious portions. On October 14, 2016, Plaintiff
moved out of her housing with the campaign and, two days
later, emailed the head of human resources for the campaign
to let her know that Plaintiff was leaving the campaign.
Plaintiff alleges she has suffered damages by the battery,
and she seeks money damages for her injury.
this simple battery appears to have lasted perhaps 10-15
seconds, Plaintiff has spent 29 pages and 115 paragraphs in
the Complaint setting it forth. Many of these allegations
describe 19 unrelated incidents involving women upon whom
Defendant Trump allegedly committed nonconsensual acts, over
the past four decades with differing circumstances.
19 separate incidents, all of which Plaintiff seeks to prove
through discovery and use at trial, vary in terms of age and
circumstance. Most of the incidents do not resemble the
present allegation; some do. For example, Plaintiff hopes to
prove and introduce at trial evidence that Defendant Trump
“was like an octopus” when groping one woman on a
commercial flight in the early 1980s, Dkt. 1 at 23, or that
15 years before the instant claim he entered a dressing room
where beauty contestants were unclothed, id. at
25-26. These allegations, salacious and in florid language,
appear to come from media reports. Indeed, in attempting to
set forth a cause of action for simple battery, the Complaint
cites approximately 40 different media reports or newspaper
may strike from a pleading “any redundant, immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).
Courts have “broad discretion” in this
determination. DeJesus, 2018 WL 375579, at *2
(citations omitted). The motion's purpose is “to
clean up the pleadings, streamline litigation, and avoid
unnecessary forays into immaterial matters.” Slone
v. Judd, No. 809-CV-1175-T-27TGW, 2009 WL 5214984, at *1
(M.D. Fla. Dec. 29, 2009) (citation omitted).
the above allegations do not constitute a “scandalous
matter, ” they are nonetheless immaterial and
impertinent to Plaintiff's simple battery claim.
Plaintiff argues that evidence of such prior incidents will
be admissible under Rule 404(b) of the Federal Rules of
Evidence to prove Defendant Trump's motive, intent,
knowledge, and absence of mistake for the battery. Dkt. 38 at
3-4, 16. In other words, these prior incidents would
establish Defendant's actionable state of mind because he
committed such acts in the past.
as Plaintiff urges would ignore the first line of that rule,
which states: “Prohibited Uses.
Evidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to
prove a person's character in order to show that on a
particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the
character.” Fed.R.Evid. 404(b) (emphasis in original).
Defendants rightly suggest that this claim of 404(b)
admissibility runs afoul of the basic admonition:
In order . . . to admit evidence under Rule 404(b), a court
must be able to articulate a way in which the tendered
evidence logically tends to establish or refute a material
fact in issue, and that chain of logic must include no link