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Boeschen v. Butler Transport

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 6, 2016

DAVID BOESCHEN, Plaintiff,
v.
BUTLER TRANSPORT, and HUGH ROPER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Michael J. Reagan United States District Court

         A. Introduction

         In this personal injury lawsuit, David Boeschen (Plaintiff) alleges that he was severely injured in a vehicular collision and asserts negligence claims against two Defendants - (1) Hugh Roper, who was driving the tractor-trailer that struck Boeschen's vehicle, and (2) Butler Transport, Roper's employer. The Court enjoys subject matter jurisdiction under the federal diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. 1332.

         Before the Court is Defendant Butler Transport's June 27, 2016 motion to dismiss (under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)) or strike (under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f)) a portion of Plaintiff's first amended complaint. Plaintiff has timely responded to the motion. For the reasons explained below, the Court grants the motion.

         B. Applicable Legal Standards

         In deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6), the district court's task is to determine whether the complaint includes “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Khorrami v. Rolince, 539 F.3d 782, 788 (7th Cir. 2008), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Post-Twombly, district courts “must still approach motions under Rule 12(b)(6) by ‘construing the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting as true all well-pleaded facts alleged, and drawing all possible inferences in her favor.'” Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 130 S.Ct. 1141 (2010), quoting Tamayo v. Blagoyevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Legal conclusions and conclusory allegations that merely recite the elements of a claim are not entitled to the presumption of truth afforded to well-pled facts. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011). Therefore, after excising the allegations not accepted as true, the Court must decide whether the remaining factual allegations plausibly suggest entitlement to relief. Id.

         Rule 12(b)(6) motions must be decided strictly on the pleadings and materials attached thereto, plus documents referred to in the complaint and central to the plaintiff's claim or subject to proper judicial notice. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Rogers v. Cartage Co., 794 F.3d 854, 861 (7th Cir. 2015); Brownmark Films, LLC v. Comedy Partners, 682 F.3d 687, 690 (7th Cir. 2012).

         Whereas Rule 12(b)(6) motions challenge the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Rule 12(f) authorizes a district court to “strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Delta Consulting Group, Inc. v. R. Randle Const., Inc., 554 F.3d 1133, 1142 (7th Cir. 2009), quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f).

         Many cases mention the fact that motions to strike are generally disfavored and infrequently granted. For instance, in Waste Management Holdings, Inc. v. Gilmore, 252 F.3d 316, 347 (4th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 535 U.S. 904 (2002), the court explained that Rule 12(f) motions are not favored, “‘because striking a portion of a pleading is a drastic remedy and because it is often sought by the movant simply as a dilatory tactic.' 5A A. Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1380, 647 (2d ed.1990).

         Nevertheless, ‘a defense that might confuse the issues in the case and would not, under the facts alleged, constitute a valid defense to the action can and should be deleted.'” See also In re Zarnel, 619 F.3d 156, 161 (2nd Cir. 2010). And motions to strike are properly used to “remove unnecessary clutter” from the pleadings. See Heller Fin., Inc., v. Midwhey Powder Co., Inc., 883 F.2d 1286, 1294 (7th Cir. 1989). Bearing these standards in mind, the undersigned turns to Butler's pending motion.

         C. Analysis

         Count II of Plaintiff's first amended complaint alleges that Roper, an agent of Butler Transport, driving in the scope of his employment, was negligent in various ways, e.g., inattention to the road, driving too fast, and failing to sound a warning before the crash. Count I alleges that Butler Transport was negligent in ten respects ...


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