United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. ATLAS SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the Court on the Motion to Strike Affirmative
Defenses (“Motion”) [Doc. # 24] filed by
Plaintiff Malibu Media, LLC. By Order [Doc. # 25] entered
July 5, 2019, the Court directed Defendant William Martin,
pro se, to file any opposition to the Motion by July
24, 2019. Defendant neither filed an opposition to the Motion
nor requested additional time to respond. Having reviewed the
record and the applicable legal authorities, the Court
grants the unopposed Motion.
alleges that Defendant used the BitTorrent file distribution
network to infringe Plaintiff's copyrights. In response
to the Complaint, Defendant filed an Answer and asserted nine
affirmative defenses: (1) unclean hands; (2) implied license;
(3) one satisfaction rule; (4) laches; (5) failure to
mitigate damages; (6) failure to state a claim; (7)
unconstitutionally excessive damages; (8) waiver; and (9)
estoppel. See Original Answer and Affirmative
Defenses [Doc. # 21], pp. 4-11.
filed its Motion, asking the Court to strike the affirmative
defenses pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Although the Court issued an order directing him
to do so, Defendant failed to file any opposition to the
Motion. Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses
is now ripe for decision.
STANDARD FOR MOTION TO STRIKE
12(f) authorizes a court to “order stricken from any
pleading . . . any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or
scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). A plaintiff who
desires “early resolution of an affirmative defense may
seek to strike it under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(f).” C&C Inv. Props., L.L.C. v. Trustmark
Nat'l Bank, 838 F.3d 655, 660-61 (5th Cir. 2016).
“Although motions to strike a defense are generally
disfavored, a Rule 12(f) motion to dismiss 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).
“Whether to grant or deny a motion to strike is in the
trial court's discretion.” Fernandes v. VMOC
LLC, 2018 WL 4901033, *1 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 9, 2018)
(citing In re Beef Indus. Antitrust Litig., 600 F.2d
1148, 1168 (5th Cir. 1979)).
affirmative defense of unclean hands does not apply where the
plaintiff's alleged misconduct “is not directly
related to the merits of the controversy between the parties,
but only where the wrongful acts ‘in some measure
affect the equitable relations between the parties in respect
of something brought before the court for
adjudication.'” See Mitchell Bros. Film Grp. v.
Cinema Adult Theater, 604 F.2d 852, 863 (5th Cir. 1979)
(quoting Keystone Driller Co. v. Gen. Excavator Co.,
290 U.S. 240, 245 (1933)). “The alleged wrongdoing of
the plaintiff does not bar relief unless the defendant can
show that he has personally been injured by the
plaintiff's conduct.” Id. (citing
Lawler v. Gillam, 569 F.2d 1283, 1294 (4th Cir.
1978)). The affirmative defense of unclean hands “does
not purport to search out or deal with the general moral
attributes or standing of a litigant.” Id.
(quoting NLRB v. Fickett-Brown Mfg. Co., 140 F.2d
883, 884 (5th Cir. 1944)).
case, Defendant alleges that Plaintiff has failed to comply
with various federal, state and local laws. There is no
allegation that this alleged failure has changed the
equitable relationship between Plaintiff and Defendant, or
that the alleged misconduct has personally injured Defendant.
Therefore, absent any opposition from Defendant, the Court
strikes the unclean hands affirmative defense.
implied nonexclusive license can be created when “(1) a
person (the licensee) requests the creation of a work, (2)
the creator (the licensor) makes the particular work and
delivers it to the licensee who requested it, and (3) the
licensor intends that the licensee-requestor copy and
distribute his work.” Lulirama Ltd., Inc. v. Axcess
Broad. Servs., Inc., 128 F.3d 872, 879 (5th Cir. 1997)
(quoting I.A.E., Inc. v. Shaver, 74 F.3d 768, 776
(7th Cir.1996)). There is no allegation that Defendant
requested that Plaintiff create the copyrighted work at
issue, or that Plaintiff intended for Defendant to copy and
distribute its work. As a result, the Court strikes the
second affirmative defense.