Drzik v. Haskell Co.
This case was before the court on Plaintiff’s motion to strike several affirmative defenses pled by Defendant as factually insufficient under FRCP 8 and Twombly. Significantly, the court struck Defendant’s two affirmative defenses asserting that liquidated damages were not due to Plaintiff because Defendant had acted in “good faith” in committing violations, if any, of the FLSA. The case is significant, because the affirmative defenses struck are asserted in the majority of FLSA defendants’ answers, typically with identical language to that pled here. Noting that such bare bones allegations do not satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8, the court struck the Defendant’s affirmative defense(s) of good faith, with leave to replead with additional facts.
Holding that the Defendant’s allegations of good faith were insufficient as pled, the court explained:
“[Defendant’s] Third and Fifth Affirmative Defenses respectively claim that Plaintiff’s claims are barred because Haskell has acted in good faith, and because of the existence of exceptions, exclusions, or exemptions provided in the FLSA. (Doc. 6 at 6). These affirmative defenses correctly state that a “good faith” defense and exceptions exist under the FLSA. See 29 U.S.C. §§ 207, 260. However, the affirmative defenses, as drafted, are lacking in sufficient details and fail to provide the requisite notice of the theory of the defense. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (explaining the need for factual support to give defendant fair notice of claims, but equally applicable to defenses). The requirement to include factual support to provide fair notice of claims is also applicable to affirmative defenses. Therefore, if Haskell intends to pursue these defenses it will need to plead some factual basis to give the Plaintiff fair notice of its defense. Therefore, Plaintiff’s Motion is granted as to the Third and Fifth Affirmative Defenses and those defenses are stricken with leave to amend.”
As the trend of defendants filing more and more motions to dismiss based on Twombly continues, it will be interesting to see if we begin seeing an uptick in motions like this, which seek to apply the pleading standards equally to the other side of the “v.”
Click Drzik v. Haskell Co. to read the entire Order.