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State Farm Fire & Casualty Co v. Electrolux Home Products

January 14, 2011

STATE FARM FIRE & CASUALTY CO
v.
ELECTROLUX HOME PRODUCTS, INC.



Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Amy J. St. Eve than Assigned Judge

CASE TITLE

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

The Court grants in part and denies in part State Farm's motion to strike [14]. The Court directs Electrolux to file an Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses in accordance with this order by no later than 1/25/11. In addition, Electrolux must designate local counsel because its present counsel does not have an office within this district. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 83.15(a). Failing to designate local counsel could result in the non-resident counsel's documents being stricken from the docket. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 83.15(b).

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.

STATEMENT

On December 1, 2010, Defendant Electrolux Home Products, Inc. ("Electrolux") removed this lawsuit brought by Plaintiff State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, as Subrogee of John and Omana Thomas ("State Farm"), from the Circuit Court of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, DuPage County, Illinois based on the Court's diversity' jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a), 1441. Before the Court is State Farm's motion to strike Electrolux's affirmative defenses pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). For the following reasons, the Court, in its discretion, grants in part and denies in part State Farm's motion. The Court directs Electrolux to file an Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses in accordance with this order by no later than January 25, 2011.

Also, pursuant to Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 83.15(a), Electrolux must designate local counsel because its present counsel does not have an office within this district. Failing to designate local counsel could result in the non-resident counsel's documents being stricken from the docket. See N.D. Ill.

L.R. 83.15(b).

LEGAL STANDARD

Pursuant to Rule 12(f), the Court can strike "any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f); Delta Consulting Group, Inc. v. R. Randle Constr., Inc., 554 F.3d 1133, 1141 (7th Cir. 2009). "Affirmative defenses will be stricken 'only when they are insufficient on the face of the pleadings.'" Williams v. Jader Fuel Co., 944 F.2d 1388, 1400 (7th Cir. 1991) (quoting Heller Fin. v. Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir. 1989)). "Motions to strike are 'not favored and will not be granted unless it appears to a certainty that plaintiffs would succeed despite any state of the facts which could be proved in support of the defense.'" Id. Yet, "[i]t is appropriate for the court to strike affirmative defenses that add unnecessary clutter to a case." Davis v. Elite Mortgage Servs., 592 F. Supp. 2d 1052, 1058 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (citing Heller, 883 F.2d at 1295). "It is also true that because affirmative defenses are subject to the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, they must set forth a 'short and plain statement' of all the material elements of the defense asserted; bare legal conclusions are not sufficient." Id. (citing Heller, 883 F.2d at 1294; Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a); Renalds v. S.R.G. Rest. Group, 119 F. Supp. 2d 800, 802 (N.D. Ill. 2000)). District courts have considerable discretion under Rule 12(f). See Delta, 554 F.3d at 1141-42.

ANALYSIS

Electrolux does not oppose State Farm's motion as to its Second, Fourth, Seventh, Eighth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, Sixteenth, and Twenty-Third Affirmative Defenses. The Court thus turns to the remaining disputed affirmative defenses.

I. Fourth Affirmative Defense

First, State Farm maintains that Electrolux failed to sufficiently allege its Fourth Affirmative Defense under the federal notice pleading standards. See Heller, 883 F.2d at 1294; Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Rule 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint -- in this case an affirmative defense -- must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). Under the federal notice pleading standards, a plaintiff's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Put ...


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