Thursday, November 10, 2022

Chief Judge Matthew W. Brann Addresses How To Attack Deficient Affirmative Defenses

In the case of Armbruster v. Eskola, No. 4:21-CV-02070 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 5, 2022 Brann, J.), the court granted in part and denied in part a Motion to Dismiss. Of note, the court addressed the propriety of pleadings in a Defendant's stated affirmative defenses in this Federal Court matter.

This case arose out of a motor vehicle accident.

After the Defendant file an Answer with Affirmative Defenses, the Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike the Answer under F.R.C.P. 11.    

Initially, the court ruled that a Rule 12(f) Motion to Strike, not a challenge under Rule 11, is the proper process for evaluating the sufficiency of pleading defenses.

Under F.R.C.P. 12(f), a court "may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant material, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter."   

Chief Judge Matthew W. Brann
M.D. Pa.

Judge Matthew W. Brann went on to rule that affirmative defenses asserted by a Defendant must provide the Plaintiff with fair notice as to the types of defenses raised, but need not rise to the level of plausibility.

The court noted that pleading facts in affirmative defenses is not necessary as long as the defense stated is logically within the ambit of the litigation. However, defenses that have no factual or logical relationship to the allegations in the Complaint will be stricken.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The Court's companion Order can be viewed HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

Source of image:  Photo by Ujesh Krishnan on

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