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Insurance Company v. Larry Bryant D/B/A Washington Park Liquor

January 21, 2011

INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LARRY BRYANT D/B/A WASHINGTON PARK LIQUOR DEFENDANT .



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donald G. Wilkerson United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Before the Court is Plaintiff United States Liability Corporation's Motion to Strike Defendant's Answer (Doc. 21). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion to Strike (Doc. 21) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff asks the Court to strike Defendant's answer and deem admitted certain allegations in the complaint. Plaintiff argues that Defendant's answer contains "additional allegations, discussions of law and argument, from confusing factual allegations to personal attacks on the competency of Plaintiff's counsel." Plaintiff specifically objects to paragraphs 12, 14, 15, 16, 20-26, 28, 29, 32, 38, and 40 of the answer. In response, Defendant argues that given the untrue allegations in the Complaint his answers are "required to be pleaded as pleaded in order to fairly meet the allegations lodged the Insured Plaintiff-Counterdefendant's Complaint" (Doc. 23).

LEGAL STANDARDS

The only permissible responses to a complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b) are admission, denial or a statement of the absence of both knowledge and information sufficient to form a belief. The rules do not approve or permit other types of responses. See Gilbert v. Johnston, 127 F.R.D. 145, 146 (N.D.Ill.1989). The Court may order stricken from any pleading "an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(f); Delta Consulting Group, Inc. v. R. Randle Const., Inc., 554 F.3d 1133, 1141 (7th Cir. 2009). Motions to strike are generally disfavored, however, and will generally be denied unless the portion of the pleading at issue is prejudicial. Heller v. Fin., Inc. v. Midwhey Powder Co., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir. 1989); Tektel, Inc. v. Maier, 813 F.Supp. 1331, 1334 (N.D. Ill. 1992) ("Motions to strike under Federal Rule 12(f) are not favored, and are usually denied unless the language in the pleading has no possible relation to the controversy and is clearly prejudicial."). Prejudice results, for instance, where the challenged allegation has the effect of confusing the issues or is so lengthy and complex that it places an undue burden on the responding party. Cumis Ins. Soc., Inc. v. Peters, 983 F.Supp. 787, 798 (N.D. Ill. 1997). The determination whether to strike material under Rule 12(f) is within the discretion of the trial court. Talbot v. Robert Matthews Distributing Co., 961 F.2d 654, 664 (7th Cir. 1992).

ANALYSIS

The Court has reviewed Paragraphs 12, 14, 15, 16, 20-26, 28, 29, 32, 38 and 40 of Defendant's answer and finds them to be wholly outside of the limits of Rule 8(b). For example:

* Paragraph 22 of Plaintiff's Complaint states:

As part of its investigation USLIC also retained counsel to procure Bryant's Examination Under Oath, a requirement under the policy. See Exhibit 1.

* Defendant's Answer to Paragraph 22 states:

Admits each and every allegation contained in Par.22, except that he denies that USLIC retained competent legal counsel to conduct Bryant's EUO (Emphasis added).

The Court finds the second portion of Defendant's answer to Paragraph 22 to be irrelevant and prejudicial and as such that answer is stricken.

* Paragraph 23 of Plaintiff's Complaint states: In conjunction with the request for Bryant's Examination Under Oath USLIC also requested Bryant produce certain documents and records in support of the ...


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