Judge denies plaintiffs' motion to strike in case against Nationwide, cites failure to timely file

By Takesha Thomas | Apr 17, 2019

ST. LOUIS – A federal court has denied a motion to strike in a case against Nationwide Insurance Co. of America over allegations of vexatious refusal to pay and breach of contract.

On April 3, U.S. Magistrate Judge Shirley Padmore Mensah of the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division ruled against plaintiffs Courtland Oliverires and Jacqueline Phillips' motion to strike 12 affirmative defenses based on a provision in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

According to Mensah, attorneys for the plaintiffs had 21 days to file paperwork in reference to their case against Nationwide alleging vexatious refusal to pay and breach of contract. However, attorneys for the pair took 78 days to file, causing Mensah to deny their claim.

Attorneys for Oliverires and Phillips had argued that based on Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “the court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." 

However, the court found that even if attorneys for Oliverires and Phillips had filed in time, the motion would have still been denied. 

"Plaintiffs have not set forth any basis for a finding that they will be prejudiced by any of the defenses at issue remaining in the pleadings or that the inclusion of the defenses in the pleadings will confuse the issues," Mensah wrote.

Mensah also found that attorneys for Oliverires and Phillips failed to include any specific or supporting evidence for their argument against Nationwide. She added that in their challenge of at least 10 of the affirmative defenses they failed to provide, "any specific arguments for why any of them are legally inadequate, are immaterial, or will cause prejudice or confusion if they remain in the pleadings." 

Mensah wrote in part that the defenses are merely “bare bones legal conclusions,” and that the defenses “are mere conclusions with no supporting statements.”

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