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Oglesby v. Lesan

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

May 30, 2017

ROBERT OGLESBY, Plaintiff,
v.
AMY LESAN, and CHAD HEIN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Cheryl R. Zwart United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendant Amy Lesan's answer and Defendant Chad Hein's amended answer and counterclaim, (Filing No. 28), and on Defendant Amy Lesan's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's demand for a jury trial. (Filing No. 30). For the following reasons both motions will be denied in their entirety.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Robert Oglesby filed his complaint against Defendants Amy Lesan and Chad Hein on December 15, 2016, alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Filing No. 1). Plaintiff's complaint alleges Defendants Lesan and Hein violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. (Filing No. 1). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that on January 28, 2013, Defendants had no justification to detain Plaintiff and used unreasonable force in detaining and arresting him. (Filing No. 1). Plaintiff has sued Lesan and Hein in their individual capacities only. The Complaint states Lesan and Hein were at all relevant times duly appointed and acting officers, servants, employees, and agents for Lancaster County, Nebraska, (“County”), and the City of Lincoln, Nebraska, (“City”), respectively. Plaintiff alleges “[Defendants'] acts and omissions described herein were under the color and authority of the laws, statutes, ordinances, regulations, customs and/or usages of the State of Nebraska . . . .” (Filing No. 1 ¶¶ 2, 3 at CM/ECF p. 1). Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, along with his attorney fees for litigating this action. On March 13, 2017, both defendants filed Answers to Plaintiff's complaint. (Filing Nos. 10 & 11). Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff filed a motion to strike Defendants' answers. (Filing No. 16).

         On March 30, 2017, the City filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2). (Filing No. 13). The City's proposed Complaint in Intervention claimed that on January 28, 2016, Plaintiff Oglesby resisted arrest and caused personal injury to Defendant Hein, and as a self-insured workers' compensation provider to Defendant Hein, the City claimed it had an interest in the action. (Filing Nos. 13 & 13-1). Nearly a week later, the City moved to withdraw its motion to intervene, explaining Defendant Hein intended to file an amended answer asserting his own counterclaim against Plaintiff for injuries and damages, (Filing No. 18), and on the same day, Defendant Hein filed a motion for leave to file an amended answer. (Filing No. 19). The court entered a text order granting the City's motion to withdraw and Hein's motion for leave, and denied Plaintiff's motion to strike without prejudice to re-filing. (Filing No. 21).

         Plaintiff has now moved to strike Defendant Lesan's answer and Defendant Hein's amended answer and counterclaim. (Filing No. 28). Defendant Lesan has moved to strike Plaintiff's demand for a jury trial. (Filing No. 30).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Plaintiff's Motion to Strike

         Plaintiff requests that the court strike portions of both Defendants' answers under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), arguing the answers contain redundant, immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous allegations.

         Under Rule 12(f) "the court may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). While the court enjoys “liberal discretion” in determining whether to strike a party's pleadings, doing so is an “extreme measure” and thus motions to strike under Rule 12(f) are “infrequently granted.” Stanbury Law Firm v. I.R.S., 221 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000).

         The purpose of a Rule 12(f) motion to strike is to “minimize delay, prejudice, and confusion.” Infogroup, Inc. v. Database LLC, 95 F.Supp.3d 1170, 1195 (D. Neb. 2015)(citations omitted). But when abused, Rule 12(f) often produces the opposite effect by creating contention and delaying the proceedings. See Stanbury, 221 F.3d at 1063. Accordingly, a motion to strike under Rule 12(f) will not be granted “in the absence of some showing of prejudicial harm” to the movant. Vernor's Ginger Ale Bottling Corp. v. Hires-Ideal Bottling Co., 8 F.R.D. 240, 241-42 (D. Neb. 1948).[1] Absent a showing of prejudice, allegations that are not strictly relevant to the alleged claims should not be stricken if they provide important context and background to the claims asserted or are relevant to some object of the pleader's lawsuit or response. Holt v. Quality Egg, L.L.C., 777 F.Supp.2d 1160, 1169 (N.D. Iowa 2011)(citing Stanbury, 221 F.3d at 1063).

         a. Defendant Lesan's Answer

         Plaintiff seeks to strike numerous portions of Defendant Lesan's answer. First, Plaintiff alleges paragraphs 5 & 6 of Lesan's answer neither admit nor deny any of Plaintiff's allegations and are immaterial or impertinent. Plaintiff argues an allegation is “immaterial” if it “has no essential or important relationship to the claim for relief or the defenses being plead, ” and paragraphs 5 & 6 of Lesan's answer do not meet this definition.

         The court disagrees. Paragraphs 5 & 6 provide context and background from Lesan's point of view and have an important relationship to Plaintiff's claim. For example, Lesan's allegation that Plaintiff was convicted for the offense of Hinder, Delay, or Interrupt Arrest, as alleged in paragraph 6, provides relevant information or context for reviewing the Lesan's conduct. Plaintiff alleges a § 1983 claim for excessive force, and Plaintiff's act of resisting arrest or impeding the officer can be considered in deciding whether the officer's conduct was reasonable or, in the alternative, excessive. S ...


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