333 F.R.D. 245 (N.D.Fla. 2019), 4:19-cv-286-RH/MJF, Silva v. Swift

Docket Nº:4:19-cv-286-RH/MJF
Citation:333 F.R.D. 245, 105 Fed.R.Serv.3d 455
Opinion Judge:Michael J. Frank, United States Magistrate Judge
Party Name:Daniel James SILVA, Plaintiff, v. Taylor Alison SWIFT and TAS Rights Management LLC, Defendants.
Attorney:Daniel James Silva, Orange Park, FL, pro se. James Douglas Baldridge, Venable LLP, Washington, DC, Defendants.
Case Date:November 01, 2019
Court:United States District Courts, 11th Circuit, Northern District of Florida

Page 245

333 F.R.D. 245 (N.D.Fla. 2019)

105 Fed.R.Serv.3d 455

Daniel James SILVA, Plaintiff,

v.

Taylor Alison SWIFT and TAS Rights Management LLC, Defendants.

No. 4:19-cv-286-RH/MJF

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division

November 1, 2019

Page 246

Daniel James Silva, Orange Park, FL, pro se.

James Douglas Baldridge, Venable LLP, Washington, DC, Defendants.

ORDER

Michael J. Frank, United States Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff has filed a "Motion to Strike," in which he requests that this court strike Defendant’s motion to dismiss and Defendant’s motion to declare Plaintiff a vexatious litigant. For the reasons set forth below, this court will deny Plaintiff’s "Motion to Strike."

I. Background

Plaintiff initiated this civil action against Taylor Alison Swift and TAS Rights Management, LLC ("TASRM"), pursuant to the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1120.1 Shortly after Plaintiff initiated this action, Plaintiff filed suit against TASRM’s counsel. Silva v. Baldridge, 4:19-cv-290-AW-CAS (N.D. Fla. June 21, 2019) ("Silva VI "). In his motion to strike, Plaintiff argues that the Defendant’s motions should be stricken because Plaintiff has accused Defendant’s counsel of various crimes and unethical conduct.

II. Analysis

Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to strike portions of pleadings. Rule 12(f) states: The court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter. The court may act:

(1) on its own; or

(2) on motion made by a party either before responding to the pleading or, if a

Page 247 response is not allowed, within 21 days after being served with the pleading.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f) (emphasis added).

The primary purpose of a 12(f) motion to strike is to avoid the unnecessary expenditure of judicial resources and the parties’ time and money addressing spurious issues. Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 973 (9th Cir. 2010); Kennedy v. City of Cleveland, 797 F.2d 297, 305 (6th Cir. 1986); Sidney-Vinstein v. A.H. Robins Co., 697 F.2d 880, 885 (9th Cir. 1983). Striking material from "a party’s pleadings is an extreme measure, and, as a result," courts have held that motions " ‘to strike under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) are viewed with disfavor and are infrequently granted.’ " Stanbury Law Firm v. IRS, 221 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000) (quoting Lunsford v. United States, 570 F.2d 221, 229 (8th Cir. 1977)).

Courts look unfavorably on motions to strike material from pleadings when the material at issue is merely impertinent or irrelevant. Brown v. Maxwell, 929 F.3d 41, 51 n.42 (2d Cir. 2019). This disfavor arises from the law’s preference for ensuring that cases are decided on their merits and the reluctance to tamper with pleadings absent a strong reason for doing so. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 181-82, 83 S.Ct. 227, 230, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962); Perez v. Wells Fargo N.A., 774 F.3d 1329, 1342 (11th Cir. 2014); Harris v. Garner, 216 F.3d 970, 997 (11th Cir. 2000); Lipsky v. Commonwealth United Corp., 551 F.2d 887, 893 (2d Cir. 1976) (The "courts should not tamper with the pleadings unless there is a strong reason for so doing.").

There is a danger that in striking a portion of a pleading a court will inadvertently strike relevant material or thereby fail to address a relevant dispute. As the Fifth Circuit noted, courts "generally are not willing to determine disputed and substantial questions of law upon a motion to strike ..." and instead prefer to resolve them "on the merits." Augustus v. Bd. of Public Instruction of Escambia Cty., Fla., 306 F.2d 862, 868 (5th Cir. 1962). Courts also cast a skeptical eye upon motions to strike pleadings "because striking a portion of a pleading is a drastic remedy and because it often is sought by the movant simply as a dilatory or harassing tactic ...." CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHUR R. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 1380 (3d ed. 2004).

When material contained in pleadings is "scandalous," however, courts are more likely to strike such material from a pleading. Brown, 929 F.3d at 51 n.42; Wine Markets Int’l, Inc. v. Bass, 177 F.R.D. 128, 133 (E.D.N.Y. 1998) ("Motions to strike are not generally favored, except in relation to scandalous matters."). "Allegations may be stricken as scandalous if the matter bears no possible relation to the controversy or may cause the objecting party prejudice." Talbot v. Robert Matthews Distrib. Co., 961 F.2d 654, 664 (7th Cir. 1992); see Collura v. City of Philadelphia, 590 Fed.Appx. 180, 185 (3d Cir. 2014) (holding that the district court properly struck the plaintiff’s complaint under Rule 12(f) because it was "replete with abusive language and ad hominem attacks" which were "outrageous and wholly inappropriate"); Alvarado-Morales v. Digital Equip. Corp., 843 F.2d 613, 617-18 (1st Cir. 1988) (categorizing as scandalous "matter which impugned the character of defendants"). Even with purportedly...

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2 practice notes
  • Haegele v. Judd, 061820 FLMDC, 8:19-cv-2750-T-33CPT
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Middle District of Florida
    • 18 Junio 2020
    ...for fear of inadvertently “strik[ing] relevant material or thereby fail[ing] to address a relevant dispute.” Silva v. Swift, 333 F.R.D. 245, 247 (N.D. Fla. 2019). Furthermore, facts that are merely “unpleasant for [one party] to have on the record” should not be str......
  • Sweigert v. Goodman, 021221 NYSDC, 1:18-cv-08653 (VEC) (SDA)
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • 12 Febrero 2021
    ...a motion is not among them. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(a). Thus, Plaintiff cannot strike such a response. See Silva v. Swift, 333 F.R.D. 245, 248 (N.D. Fla. 2019) (“courts have held that Rule 12(f) does not authorize courts to strike motions, affidavits, or memoranda in ......
2 cases
  • Haegele v. Judd, 061820 FLMDC, 8:19-cv-2750-T-33CPT
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Middle District of Florida
    • 18 Junio 2020
    ...for fear of inadvertently “strik[ing] relevant material or thereby fail[ing] to address a relevant dispute.” Silva v. Swift, 333 F.R.D. 245, 247 (N.D. Fla. 2019). Furthermore, facts that are merely “unpleasant for [one party] to have on the record” should not be str......
  • Sweigert v. Goodman, 021221 NYSDC, 1:18-cv-08653 (VEC) (SDA)
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • 12 Febrero 2021
    ...a motion is not among them. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(a). Thus, Plaintiff cannot strike such a response. See Silva v. Swift, 333 F.R.D. 245, 248 (N.D. Fla. 2019) (“courts have held that Rule 12(f) does not authorize courts to strike motions, affidavits, or memoranda in ......