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Hewitt v. Allied Business Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, D. Kansas

August 13, 2019

BARBARA HEWITT, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLIED BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, LLC, et al., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CARLOS MURGUIA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Barbara Hewitt moves to strike defendants' affirmative defenses, to dismiss defendants Larry Alsup, Allied Business Solutions, LLC, and Allied Business Solutions Inc.'s (“ABS”) counterclaims, and in the alternative for a more definite statement. (Doc. 9.)

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff formerly worked for defendants. Defendants ABS are two businesses that assist companies with various telecom needs, and the president of those businesses. Plaintiff filed suit against defendants for various employment-related claims including failure to pay wages, breach of contract, and fraud. Defendants answered the complaint, generally raised several affirmative defenses without pleading additional facts, and brought counterclaims for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of the duty of loyalty.

         As relevant to the present motion, the parties submit multiple employment contracts, dispute plaintiff's former employment status, and dispute which agreement is the operative employment contract. Plaintiff now moves to strike defendants' generally-pleaded affirmative defenses as inadequately pleaded under the Iqbal/Twombly framework; to dismiss defendants' counterclaims as inadequately pleaded under their relevant theories; and in the alternative for a more definite statement to require defendants to more clearly define their claims for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. 12(b)(6)

         On a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court assumes true all well-pleaded facts in the complaint, disregards all legal conclusions worded as factual allegations, and grants the non-moving party all reasonable inferences from the pleadings. Colony Ins. Co. v. Burke, 698 F.3d 1222, 1228 (10th Cir. 2012). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” not merely possible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Co. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)) (quotation marks omitted); see Ridge at Red Hawk, L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007).

         B. 12(e)

         The court will grant a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) only if a pleading “is so vague or ambiguous that the [moving] party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). Rule 12(e) motions “are disfavored in light of the liberal discovery provided under the federal rules[, ]” and are granted only when “the claims alleged are [insufficient] to enable a responsive pleading in the form of a denial or admission.” Peterson v. Brownlee, 314 F.Supp.2d 1150, 1155-56 (D. Kan. 2004) (citations omitted).

         C. 12(f)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) allows the court to strike from a pleading “any redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). The court has discretion to strike an “insufficient defense” from a pleading when no circumstances exist under which that defense can succeed as a matter of law. Wilhelm v. TLC Lawn Care, Inc., No. 07-2465-KHV, 2008 WL 474265, at *2 (D. Kan. Feb. 19, 2008); Resolution Trust Corp. v. Tri-State Realty Inv'rs of K.C., Inc., 838 F.Supp. 1448, 1450 (D. Kan. 1993). Motions to strike are disfavored and the striking of an affirmative defense is a “drastic remedy.” Wilhelm, 2008 WL 474265, at *2.

         III.DISCUSSION

         The court will first address plaintiff's motion to strike before turning to her motion to dismiss and her ...


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