United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
S. Hanen United States District Judge
the Court is Plaintiffs Motion to Dismiss and Motion to
Strike Defendants' Affirmative Defenses (Doc. No. 11).
Defendants have not filed a response, and the time to do so
Faheem Raza Naqvi (hereinafter "Plaintiff) filed a
Second Amended Complaint on April 30, 2019, alleging that he
is entitled to compensation from Defendants for their various
violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA"). (Doc. No. 8). Plaintiff argues that in
their answer, Defendants Deedar Noor Ali, Navroz Qasim Ali,
and Sharif Rahim Ali (hereinafter "Defendants")
merely listed "boilerplate . . . affirmative
defenses." (Doc. No. 11 at 5). Indeed, Defendants assert
"good faith reliance" (Doc. No. 10 at 9-10,
¶¶ 3, 6, 7) and "common law" defenses
(Doc. No. 10 at 10, ¶¶ 8, 9). Plaintiff further
contends that this "list" fails to put him on
notice and moves to dismiss the defenses under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) or to strike the defenses under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).
movant may file a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for "failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). To defeat a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6), a nonmovant must plead "enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 556). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a
'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than
a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court
must accept all well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true
and view them in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.
Sonnier v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 509 F.3d
673, 675 (5th Cir. 2007). The court is not bound to accept
factual assumptions or legal conclusions as true, and only a
complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a
motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. When
there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the court assumes
their veracity and then determines whether they plausibly
give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) states that "a court may
strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any
redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter. The
court may act: (1) on its own; or (2) on motion made by a
party either before responding to the pleading or, if a
response is not allowed, within 21 days after being served
with the pleading." "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).
points out that "District Courts in this Circuit are
split as to whether the 'fair notice' pleading
standard applies to affirmative defenses, or if that
'fair notice' standard was replaced with the
heightened 'plausibility' standard of
Twombly and /96a/." (Doc. No. 11 at 4). That
having been said, a number of cases have concluded that, with
affirmative defenses like waiver, release and unclean hands,
the simple listing of estoppel "falls well short of the
minimum particulars needed to identify the affirmative
defense in question." Trevino v. RDL Energy.
Servs., L.P., Civ. A. H-14-1936, 2017 WL 1167160, at *4
(S.D. Tex. Mar. 29, 2017) (citing numerous cases and
reaffirming its dismissal of Defendants' barebones laches
and estoppel defenses). Since Defendants answer merely states
"8. Plaintiffs' claims are barred, in whole or in
part, by the equitable doctrines of laches, unclean hands,
waiver, and estoppel" and Defendants fail to describe
any facts indicating why these broad defenses are applicable
here, the Court dismisses these affirmative defenses.
have also pleaded "good faith reliance" as an
affirmative defense. The defense is relevant to the eventual
issue of damages: If a factfinder finds an employer liable
under the FLSA, the act permits a district court to award
less than the full amount of liquidated damages only if the
district court finds that the employer acted reasonably and
in good faith. See 29 U.S.C. § 260. Applying
the fair notice standard, courts have found that even though
defendants fail to provide specific facts supporting their
assertion of "good faith," courts find such minimal
"allegations "barely scrape[ ] over the fair notice
stand" in notifying the plaintiff of the nature of the
defense and avoiding unfair surprise. Trevino, 2017
WL 1167160, at *5 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 29, 2017) (citing
Rodriguez v. Physician Lab Servs., LLC, No.
13-cv-622, 2014 WL 847126, at *3 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 4, 2014);
Dyson v. Stuart Petroleum Testers, Inc., No.
01-15-CV-282 RP, 2015 WL 4935527, at *4 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 18,
2015); Floridia v. DLT3 Girls, Inc., No. 3:1
l-CV-3624, 2012 WL 1565533, at *3 (S.D. Tex. May 2, 2012)
(holding defense asserting that "plaintiff was an exempt
administrative and/or executive employee under Section
13(a)(1) of the FLSA" sufficient to give plaintiff
notice); Franks v. Tyhan, Inc., Civ. A. H-15-191,
2016 WL 1531752, at *3 (S.D. Tex. Apr. 15, 2016)). As such,
the Court denies Plaintiffs Motion to dismiss or strike these
August 6, 2019, there were three pending Motions to Dismiss
or Strike various paragraphs of Defendants' answers. That
same day, the parties entered their joint discovery and case
management plan. (Doc. No. 16). Given the early stages of
this case and the parties' propensity for filing motions
and amended complaints/answers without first seeking leave,
the Court will not entertain anymore piecemeal motions of
this type. The Court expects Defendants to voluntarily drop
any unsupported defenses long before Court intervention
becomes necessary and certainly before this Court considers
the trial of this matter (and expects the same of Plaintiff
should the Plaintiff find that he made unsupported
allegations). The Court will consider Plaintiffs issues with
Defendants' remaining defenses if and when raised by a
properly filed Rule 56 motion. Nevertheless, Plaintiffs
Motion to Dismiss and Strike is granted as to Defendants'
"common law" defenses and they are hereby dismissed
without prejudice. Plaintiffs Motion is denied as to
Defendants' "good faith reliance" defense.
Rule 7.D states in relevant part:
Counsel must respond to an opposed motion within 21 days from
the date the motion is filed with the Clerk's Office,
unless ordered differently by the Court. . . . If the reply
is not presented in a timely manner, it will not be
considered by the Court unless the Court grants a motion for
leave to file the reply late. Failure to file a timely
response shall be ...