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Middlebrooks v. St. Coletta of Greater Washington

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


September 30, 2009

LILLIE M. MIDDLEBROOKS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ST. COLETTA OF GREATER WASHINGTON, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Complaint [dkt. #3] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f).*fn1 Defendants ask the Court to strike plaintiff's complaint in its entirety for failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) and 8(d).*fn2 For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

Rule 12(f) provides that a district court "may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). Rule 8(a) provides that a pleading "must contain . . . (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Rule 8(d) provides that "[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct."

"Enforcing these rules is largely a matter for the trial court's discretion." Ciralsky v. C.I.A., 355 F.3d 661, 669 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see also Unique Industries, Inc. v. 965207 Alberta Ltd., 2009 WL 2185555, *2 (D.D.C. 2009) ("The decision to grant or deny a motion to strike is vested in the trial judge's sound discretion."). Guiding that discretion, however, is the "general rule" that motions to strike undre Rule 12(f) are "disfavored." Stabilisierungsfonds Fur Wein v. Kaiser Stuhl Wine Distribs. Pty. Ltd., 647 F.2d 200, 201 (D.C. Cir. 1981); see United States ex rel. K & R Ltd. Partnership v. Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, 456 F. Supp. 2d 46, 51 (D.D.C. 2006) (motions to strike are "strongly disfavored"); Brown v. Broadcasting Bd. of Governors, 2009 WL 2704586, *9 (D.D.C. 2009) ("striking pleadings is an extreme and disfavored remedy");. Thus, "in considering a motion to strike, the court will draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor and resolve all doubts in favor of denying the motion to strike." See Unique Indus., 2009 WL 2185555, *2.

Defendants have not persuaded the Court that the extreme sanction of striking the complaint in its entirety is warranted. Although plaintiff's complaint is lengthy, it is not incomprehensible. As the court in Ciralski emphasized, Rule 8(a) does not require a "'short and plain complaint, but rather a 'short and plain statement of the claim.'" Ciralski, 355 F.3d at 670 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). And it is "each allegation" that Rule 8(d)(1) states "must be simple, concise, and direct," not the pleading itself. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d)(1); see Ciralski, 355 F.3d at 670. Indeed the federal rules expressly permit alternative or inconsistent statements of a claim. See Ciralski, 355 F.3d at 670; Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d)(2) ("A party may set out 2 or more statements of a claim or defense alternatively or hypothetically, either in a single count or defense or in separate ones.); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d)(3) ("A party may state as many separate claims or defenses as it has, regardless of consistency.").

Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED: that the defendants' Motion to Strike plaintiff's complaint [dkt. #3] is DENIED; and it is further

ORDERED: that the defendants shall file their response to the plaintiff's Complaint on or before October 12, 2009.

SO ORDERED.


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