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Hayes v. Nettles

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 29, 2019

MICHAEL T. HAYES, Plaintiff,
v.
RACHEL NETTLES; MICHAEL MONTGOMERY; AND CHARLES JOHANNESSEN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO STRIKE

          David C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Michael T. Hayes' Motion to Strike. Dkt. 76. Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the motion without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(1)(B). For reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Strike.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On December 12, 2016, Plaintiff Michael T. Hayes filed a Complaint alleging that, while incarcerated at Idaho Maximum Security Institution, Defendant Correctional Officers Rachel Nettles, Michael Montgomery, and Charles Johannessen (collectively “Defendants”) severely beat him, causing serious injuries.

         On October 26, 2017, Defendants filed their answer to Hayes' Complaint.[1]

         On May 10, 2019, the Idaho Court of Appeals vacated Hayes' state judgment of conviction for battery on a correctional officer and remanded the case back to the district court for a new trial. It did so on the grounds that the district court 1) erred in failing to issue subpoenas for two medical professionals upon Hayes' pre-trial request and 2) abused its discretion in admitting multiple instances of Hayes' prior conduct which necessarily affected the jury's perception of Hayes' credibility. State v. Hayes, No. 45601, 2019 BL 169904 (Idaho Ct. App. May 10, 2019).

         On May 31, 2019, Hayes mailed to the Court the pending Motion to Strike. Dkt. 76. His motion was formally docketed on June 4, 2019.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows the court to strike from “any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). The purpose of a Rule 12(f) motion is to avoid the costs that arise from litigating spurious issues by dispensing with those issues prior to trial. Sidney-Vinstein v. A.H. Robins Co., 697 F.2d 880, 885 (9th Cir. 1983). A defense may be found “insufficient” as a matter of pleading or as a matter of substance. With respect to substantive insufficiency, a motion to strike a defense is proper “when the defense is insufficient as a matter of law.” Kaiser Aluminum & Chem. Sales, Inc. v. Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 677 F.2d 1045, 1057 (5th Cir. 1982). Rule 12(f) motions are “generally regarded with disfavor[.]” Neilson v. Union Bank of Cal., 290 F.Supp.2d 1101, 1152 (C.D. Cal. 2003). See also Colaprico v. Sun Microsystems, Inc., 758 F.Supp. 1335, 1339 (N.D. Cal. 1991) (“[M]otions to strike should not be granted unless it is clear that the matter to be stricken could have no possible bearing on the subject matter of the litigation.”). Whether to grant a motion to strike is within the courts' discretion. See Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 974 (9th Cir. 2010).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Hayes seeks to strike Defendants' Third Affirmative Defense, which asserts that “Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Nettles are barred by the United State Supreme Court's decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).” Dkt. 36, at 3. He argues that this Third Affirmative Defense is legally insufficient in light of the Idaho Court of Appeals' May 10, 2019 decision.

         Defendants contend that Hayes' motion to strike should be denied because it is untimely and premature. In its decision, the Idaho Court of Appeals vacated Hayes' state conviction and remanded the case back to the district court for a new trial for evidentiary reasons. Defendants argue that even if Hayes is acquitted, that would go to the factual support for the affirmative defense, but “does not make asserting it ‘redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous.'” Dkt. 76, at 3 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f)).

         1. ...


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