IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION
October 12, 2011
NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
METROPOLITAN WATER RECLAMATION DISTRICT OF GREATER CHICAGO, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago ("District") has filed its Answer, including a group of affirmative defenses ("ADs"), to the Clean Water Act citizens' suit brought against it by three not-for-profit corporations. This sua sponte memorandum order is occasioned (1) by one language glitch and (2) by the proliferation of ADs (10 in number) advanced by District.
First, each of District's several efforts to invoke the disclaimer of Fed. R. Civ. P. ("Rule") 8(b)(5) as the predicate for obtaining the benefit of a deemed denial has curiously departed (unintentionally, it may safely be assumed) from that Rule's straightforward language. Instead of stating that District "lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the truth of an allegation," each of the paragraphs "denies knowledge of information sufficient to form a belief...." That altered language doesn't have the same meaning, and this Court orders that the usage throughout the Answer be amended to track Rule 8(b)(5).*fn1
More substantively, this Court's usual reaction to a laundry list of ADs is to require the pleader to do some fine tuning after reading (1) this Court's App'x ¶5 to State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Riley, 199 F.R.D. 276, 279 (N.D. Ill. 2001) as well as (2) relevant caselaw applying Rule 8(c). But here it appears that neither the repetitive nature of the ADs nor their substantive viability needs to be addressed at this time. Instead this Court will await the outcome of the settlement discussions to which District refers--once the proposed Consent Decree referred to there is consummated (or perhaps founders for lack of ultimate agreement), it will be appropriate to confer with the litigants as to the effect of that outcome on the ADs and the future of this lawsuit.