United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF
PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO FRCP 12(F)
A. OTAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Kualoa Ranch Hawaii, Inc.'s
(“Defendant”) Motion to Strike Portions of
Plaintiffs' Complaint Pursuant to FRCP 12(f), filed May
17, 2019. ECF No. 15. The Court finds this matter suitable
for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of
the Local Rules of Practice for the U.S. District Court for
the District of Hawaii. For the reasons articulated below,
the Court HEREBY DENIES the Motion.
asks the Court to strike all paragraphs of the Complaint
referencing punitive damages and the paragraph in the prayer
requesting attorneys' fees and costs. Although Defendant
moves to strike the foregoing contents of the Complaint, it
fails to address Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“FRCP”) 12(f)'s standard. Instead, Defendant
contends that Plaintiffs Juane´ and Ralph Pierce's
(collectively “Plaintiffs”) allegations are
insufficient. This Motion effectively seeks to dismiss
Plaintiffs' requests for punitive damages and
attorneys' fees and costs or obtain judgment as a matter
of law or summary judgment as to the requests. However, such
relief is appropriately the subject of an FRCP 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, an FRCP 12(c) motion, or a motion for
summary judgment. Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft
Co., 618 F.3d 970, 974 (9th Cir. 2010) (“Handi-
Craft's 12(f) motion was really an attempt to have
certain portions of Whittlestone's complaint dismissed or
to obtain summary judgment against Whittlestone as to those
portions of the suit-actions better suited for a Rule
12(b)(6) motion or a Rule 56 motion, not a Rule 12(f)
motion.”). The Court lacks the authority under FRCP
12(f) “to strike claims for damages on the ground that
such claims are precluded as a matter of law.”
Id. at 974-75. Accordingly, the Motion is DENIED.
FRCP 12(f) was the appropriate mechanism by which to
eliminate Plaintiffs' requests for punitive damages and
attorneys' fees and costs, the Court would nevertheless
deny the request. FRCP 12(f) authorizes the Court to
“strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any
redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).
“‘Redundant' allegations are those that are
needlessly repetitive or wholly foreign to the issues
involved in the action. Cal. Dep't of Toxic
Substances Control v. Alco Pac., Inc., 217 F.Supp.2d
1028, 1033 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (citation omitted).
“Immaterial matter is that which has no essential or
important relationship to the claim for relief or the
defenses being pleaded.” Fantasy, Inc. v.
Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir. 1993),
rev'd on other grounds, 510 U.S. 517 (1994)
(citation and quotations omitted). An impertinent matter
consists of a statement that does not pertain, and is not
necessary, to the issues in question. Id. (citation
omitted); Wailua Assocs. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur.
Co., 183 F.R.D. 550, 553 (D. Haw. 1998) (noting that an
allegation is impertinent when it is irrelevant). Scandalous
matter casts a derogatory light on someone, most typically a
party. U.S. E.E.O.C. v. Glob. Horizons, Inc., 860
F.Supp.2d 1172, 1182 (D. Haw. 2012).
general rule, motions to strike are disfavored because they
are often used as a delaying tactic and because of the
limited importance of pleadings in federal practice. See
Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School Dist., 735
F.Supp.2d 1222, 1223 (S.D. Cal. 2010) (citation omitted). The
function of a 12(f) motion is to avoid the use of time or
money to litigate spurious issues, instead dispensing with
those issues before trial. Whittlestone, 618 F.3d at
973 (citation omitted).
rationale behind granting motions to strike is to avoid
prejudice to a party by preventing a jury from seeing the
offensive matter or giving the allegation any unnecessary
notoriety.” Wailua, 183 F.R.D. at 553. Grounds
for a motion to strike must be readily apparent from the face
of the pleadings or from materials that may be judicially
noticed. Id. at 554. A matter will not be stricken
from a pleading unless it is clear that it can have no
possible bearing on the subject matter of the litigation.
FRCP 12(f)'s standard, the Court finds that
Plaintiffs' requests for punitive damages and
attorneys' fees and costs do not constitute “an
insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).
Defendant has not asserted that any of these bases authorize
the Court to strike the identified paragraphs of the
Complaint, nor does the record warrant such relief.
the requests are plainly not insufficient defenses. Second,
the requests are not redundant. The request for fees and
costs is only mentioned in the prayer for damages and the
request for punitive damages is referenced multiple times,
but in connection with different claims. Third, the requests
are not immaterial because they relate to Plaintiffs'
claims. Fourth, the requests are not impertinent, as
Plaintiffs' ability to recover punitive damages and/or
fees and costs pertain directly to the harm they allege.
Finally, the requests are not scandalous because they do not
cast a derogatory light on anyone.
on the foregoing, the Court HEREBY DENIES Defendant's
Motion to Strike Portions of Plaintiffs' Complaint