United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Shelly Ball has filed a Motion to Compel Defendant to File an
Amended Answer. See Dkt. No. 14 (the “Motion
to Compel”). United States District Judge Sam A.
Lindsay has referred the Motion to Compel to the undersigned
United States magistrate judge for a hearing, if necessary,
and for determination under 28 U.S.C. § 636.
See Dkt. No. 17.
Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”)
filed a response, see Dkt. No. 18, and Ball filed a
reply, see Dkt. No. 20.
reasons and to the extent explained below, the Court GRANTS
in part and DENIES in part Plaintiff Shelly Ball's Motion
to Compel Defendant to File an Amended Answer [Dkt. No. 14].
Motion to Compel explains that Ball's “Original
Complaint (‘Complaint') [ECF Doc. 1] details
Ball's claims against Life Insurance Company of North
America [hereinafter ‘LINA'] arising from
LINA's denial of Ball's claim for long-term
disability (‘LTD') benefits” and asserts
[i]n Defendant's Amended Answer (‘Answer') [ECF
Doc. 12], LINA fails to satisfy well-know pleading standards
in two areas. Both areas were recently addressed by [United
States District] Judge [Sidney A.] Fitzwater. As summarized
LINA repeatedly pleaded that a document “speaks for
itself” after Ball warned LINA not to do so and
provided LINA with case authority that: “This type of
pleading is insufficient.” Bruce v. Anthem Ins.
Cos., [No. 3:15-cv-353-D, ] 2015 WL 1860002, at *2 (N.D.
Tex. Apr. 23, 2015) (compelling more specific answer). LINA
pleaded affirmative defenses in section B.1 and B.2 without
any facts, despite the requirement that it provide
“enough factual particularity to give the plaintiff
fair notice of the nature of the affirmative defense and
avoid unfair surprise.” Bruce, 2015 WL
1860002, at *3 (compelling more specific answer as to four
(Joint Status Report [ECF Doc. 13] at 2-3, § 3.a.)
Dkt. No. 14 at 1.
asks the Court to “order LINA to file an amended answer
to address, in compliance with [Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure] 8(b)(1)(B), the allegations in paragraphs 297-298
and 302-304 of the Complaint, without basing its responses on
any assertion that a document ‘speaks for itself, '
and that the Court order that the clause ‘among other
things' is stricken from paragraphs B.1 and B.2 on page
36 of Defendant's Amended Answer, with an opportunity to
re-plead, in compliance with [Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure] 8(b)(1)(A) and [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure]
8(c), any such affirmative defense with enough specificity or
factual particularity to give the Ball fair notice of the
defense.” Id. at 4-5.
responds that Ball's “Original Complaint, filed on
September 7, 2017, is 60 pages long and contains 358 separate
allegations to which LINA responded” and that
“[m]any of the allegations were argumentative and/or
accusatory allegations that serve no apparent function, and
many simply quoted documents or quoted language from
cases.” Dkt. No. 18 at 1 (footnote omitted). LINA
explains that, “[n]onetheless, [it] responded to each
and every allegation in its Original Answer filed on October
16, 2017” but that, “[t]hereafter, [Ball's]
counsel complained that LINA's answer was insufficient
and requested that LINA amend its answer.” Id.
to LINA, although it “believes its Original Answer was
sufficient, in an attempt to avoid a needless dispute over
the pleadings, LINA filed its Amended Answer on November 6,
2017, revising paragraphs 10, 16, 42, 100-103, 105, 136, 137,
188, 215, and 216 and adding additional factual allegations
to Affirmative Defenses B.1 and B.2, ” but,
“[d]espite this, Plaintiff continues to demand that
LINA amend its pleadings and has now filed her Motion [to
Compel] simply to harass LINA.” Id. at 1-2.
reply, Ball contends that LINA's response
“continues LINA's history of procedural violations
that have the effect of ‘sandbagging' Ball” -
“[w]here LINA's actions previously contravened the
ERISA standards, they now contravene the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure and the case law construing them.” Dkt.
No. 20 at 2. Ball asserts that she “provided the
applicable legal authorities to LINA before filing her”
Motion to Compel and that “LINA failed to heed
them” and “has created disputes where, because of
settled law, there should be none” as to “(1) the
five simple sentences in the Complaint to which LINA has
evasively answered that Caringi's report ‘speaks
for itself'” and “(2) the two affirmative
defenses pleaded by LINA with a catch-all ‘among other
things' clause.” Id.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(b) governs a defendant's
admissions and denials of allegations in a complaint filed
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) and provides:
(1) In General. In responding to a pleading, a party must:
(A) state in short and plain terms its defenses to each claim
asserted against it; and
(B) admit or deny the allegations asserted against it by an
(2) Denials - Responding to the Substance. A denial must
fairly respond to the substance of the allegation.
(3) General and Specific Denials. A party that intends in
good faith to deny all the allegations of a pleading -
including the jurisdictional grounds - may do so by a general
denial. A party that does not intend to deny all the
allegations must either specifically deny designated
allegations or generally deny all except those specifically
(4) Denying Part of an Allegation. A party that intends in
good faith to deny only part of an allegation must admit the