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Baxter v. Central RV, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 10, 2019

KIRK BAXTER, et al., Plaintiffs,
CENTRAL RV, INC., et al., Defendants.


          Teresa J. James U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Strike Certain Allegations from Plaintiffs' Complaint (ECF No. 6). In their motion, Defendants move pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) to strike eight paragraphs from Plaintiffs' complaint on the grounds the allegations in those paragraphs are immaterial, impertinent, and/or scandalous, and are needlessly and unduly prejudicial to Defendants. Plaintiffs filed an opposition to the motion but suggest their greatest interest is in being permitted to argue and present evidence at trial in support of the challenged allegations. Upon consideration of the matter, the Court concludes that the motion should be denied.

         I. Background

         On April 5, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their complaint alleging one count of violations of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act and one count of fraud/fraud by silence/fraudulent misrepresentation.[1] In their complaint, Plaintiffs allege they purchased a travel trailer from Defendants that had been declared salvage in another state, and that Defendants knew the salvage history but sold the trailer to Plaintiffs without disclosing that history. Plaintiffs further allege that Defendants have engaged in a pattern of unconscionable conduct by concealing the salvage history of travel trailers they sold to other consumers.

         On May 8, 2019, Defendants filed a joint answer.[2] Later that day, they filed their motion to strike and a memorandum in support, [3] seeking to strike certain allegations in Plaintiffs' complaint on the grounds they violate Rule 12(f). Defendants address the offending allegations in three groups.

         First, Defendants object that paragraphs 1 and 2 of Plaintiffs' complaint are irrelevant and impertinent to the issue in this case and inherently and severely prejudicial to Defendants. Paragraph 1 of Plaintiffs' complaint alleges that “[f]or years, Central RV, Inc. has abused the laws of the state of Kansas in order to wash salvaged titles and re-sell them to unsuspecting customers.” Paragraph 2 alleges that “[i]n fact, Central RV's pattern and practice of washing titles in the state of Kansas in order to pass them off to consumers without a ‘salvage' brand led the Kansas legislature to amend existing laws in 2016 to specifically address this issue.”

         Second, Defendants object that paragraphs 15 and 17 of Plaintiffs' complaint are prejudicial, irrelevant, immaterial, and would be inadmissible hearsay. Paragraph 15 alleges as follows:

On or about January 22, 2016, Central RV applied for a Kansas title, knowing that at the time Kansas could not issue a title with a salvage (or previously salvage) brand. Central RV knew that the Kansas title would come back washed clean of the prior salvage brand.

         And Paragraph 17 alleges as follows:

This is not because no brand was merited-it surely was-but because Kansas law at the time did not permit the Kansas Department of Revenue to issue the applicable salvage/previously salvage brand for travel trailers such as the Key Largo. That law has since been changed, at least in part because of Central RV.

         Finally, Defendants contend that Paragraphs 35, 36, 38 and 39 contain irrelevant, impertinent, scandalous and severely prejudicial allegations. Those paragraphs appear in a section of the complaint titled “Pattern and Practice.” In Paragraph 35, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have a history of concealing the salvage history of travel trailers. Providing an example of that allegation, Paragraph 36 states that “[f]or instance, in Todd Morgan v. Central RV, Inc. (D. Kan. 17-2300-JPO), the jury unanimously found Central RV to have committed virtually identical acts and claims as are alleged here (specifically, KCPA and fraud by silence). That jury also unanimously found punitive damages were merited.” Plaintiffs assert in Paragraph 38 that “[u]pon information and belief, Defendants concealed the salvage history of travel trailers from dozens, if not hundreds, of other consumers dating back to at least 2013.” In Paragraph 39, Plaintiffs allege that “the Kansas Attorney General has recently brought suit against Central RV (and/or Nick Ford) for essentially identical conduct.”

         II. Legal Standards

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that “[t]he court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.”[4] Motions to strike generally are disfavored.[5] For that reason, a court “should decline to strike material from a pleading unless that material has no possible relation to the controversy and may prejudice the opposing party.”[6] If the record suggests any doubt whether under any contingency a challenged matter may raise an issue, the court should deny the motion, and evidentiary facts that help ...

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