United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
October 19, 2004.
COMCAST OF ILLINOIS X, LLC, Plaintiff,
MICKI THULL, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON SHADUR, Senior District Judge
Micki Thull ("Thull") has filed her Answer to the Complaint
brought against her by Comcast of Illinois X, LLC ("Comcast"),
which charges her with illegal piracy of its proprietary cable
communications. Because nearly every paragraph of the Answer
violates one or another of the fundamental legal principles that
govern responsive pleadings in the federal courts, this
memorandum order is issued sua sponte to require Thull's counsel
to return to the drawing board.
To begin with, the vast majority of the Answer's responses
(Answer ¶¶ -5, 7-22, 26-28, 31 and 34-37) are wholly at odds with
the dictates of the second sentence of Fed.R. Civ. P. ("Rule")
8(b) as to the content of the disclaimer required for a
responding party to get the benefit of a deemed denial see App.
¶ 1 to State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Riley, 199 F.R.D. 276,
278 (N.D. Ill. 2001). Moreover:
1. Even apart from that noncompliance, it is of
course oxymoronic to disclaim the existence of enough
information to confirm or deny a complaint's allegations and then
to deny those same allegations.
2. There is no legitimate basis for Thull's
disclaimer of Comcast's allegations as to subject
matter jurisdiction (Complaint ¶ 2) and venue
(Complaint ¶ 3). Unless Thull has an objective good
faith basis for doing otherwise (see Rule 11(b)),
those allegations must instead be admitted.
3. It is patently absurd for Thull to respond to the
incorporation by reference of earlier paragraphs in
Complaint ¶¶ 26 and 34 with a disclaimer disclaimer
4. It is equally impermissible to advance a
disclaimer in response to Comcast's allegations as to
statutory provisions in Complaint ¶¶ 27 and
Finally, Answer ¶ 33's demand for "strict proof," whatever that
is, is also improper again see App. ¶ 1 to State Farm. That
too should be eliminated from the Amended Answer ordered
Because the flaws in the Answer are so pervasive, it is
stricken in its entirety. Thull's counsel is ordered to file a self-contained Amended Answer in this Court's chambers (with a
copy of course to be transmitted contemporaneously to Comcast's
counsel) on or before October 29, 2004. No charge is to be made
to Thull by her counsel for the added work and expense incurred
in correcting counsel's errors. Thull's counsel are ordered to
apprise their client to that effect by letter, with a copy to be
transmitted to this Court's chambers as an informational matter
(not for filing).