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Sturdivant v. Continental Tire Americas, LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division

January 21, 2015

Shunovia Sturdivant, Plaintiff,
v.
Continental Tire The Americas, LLC and GenCorp, Inc. f/k/a General Tire & Rubber Company, Defendants.

ORDER AND OPINION

MICHELLE CHILDS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Shunovia Sturdivant ("Plaintiff") filed this products liability action against Defendants Continental Tire The Americas, LLC ("CTTA") and GenCorp, Inc. f/k/a General Tire & Rubber Company[1] (collectively "Defendants"), seeking to recover damages for injuries resulting from an accident caused by the alleged failure of a tire manufactured by CTTA. (ECF No. 1 at 1 ¶¶ 7-11.)

This matter is before the court on CTTA's Motion to Strike pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) ("Rule 12(f) motion") on the basis that Plaintiff did not plead paragraph 21 in the Complaint with the particularity necessary to establish a "substantial need" for trade secret information. (ECF No. 11 at 2.) Plaintiff opposes CTTA's Rule 12(f) motion asserting that paragraph 21 of the Complaint is not the type of allegation that a Rule 12(f) motion is meant to strike from a pleading. (ECF No. 17 at 1.) For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES CTTA's Rule 12(f) motion.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO THE PENDING MOTION

Plaintiff alleges that she was injured on July 19, 2012, when the vehicle she was riding in experienced a tread separation in the left rear tire, causing the vehicle to overturn after the driver lost control. (ECF No. 1 at 2 ¶¶ 7-8.) On July 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants alleging claims for negligence (Count 1), strict liability (Count 2), and breach of warranty (Count 3). (ECF No. 1 at 3-5.) In regard to the left rear tire that allegedly caused the aforementioned accident, Plaintiff asserted the following in paragraph 21 of the Complaint:

In order to investigate this claim, the Plaintiff will need access to certain information concerning the design and manufacture of the tires including but not limited to: design specifications with change histories; design evaluations; rubber compound formulae for the tire inner liner and skim coat stock. Some or all of this information may fall subject to a claim of trade secret. Without access to this information, the Plaintiff will be substantially prejudiced in her investigation and proof of defect herein. Plaintiff believes that access to this information will likely lead to admissible evidence at the trial of this case.

(Id. at 5 ¶ 21.)

In response to the allegations in the Complaint, CTTA filed a Rule 12(f) motion on August 13, 2014, asserting that the court should strike paragraph 21 from the Complaint. (ECF Nos. 9, 11.) Plaintiff filed opposition to CTTA's Rule 12(f) motion on September 2, 2014, to which CTTA filed a Reply in Support of Motion to Strike on September 11, 2014. (ECF Nos. 17, 23.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD AND ANALYSIS

A. Motions to Strike

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f) allows a court, acting either on its own or on a motion, to "strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter."[2] Id . Generally, such motions "are only granted when the challenged allegations have no possible relation or logical connection to the subject matter of the controversy' or cause some form of significant prejudice to one or more of the parties to the action.'" Moore v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., C/A No. 1:10-2182-MBS-JRM, 2011 WL 1085650, at *8 (D.S.C. Feb. 10, 2011) (citations omitted). "A motion to strike is a drastic remedy which is disfavored by the courts and infrequently granted." Clark v. Milam , 152 F.R.D. 66, 70 (S.D. W.Va. 1993); see also Waste Mgmt. Holdings, Inc. v. Gilmore , 252 F.3d 316, 347 (4th Cir. 2001) ("Rule 12(f) motions are generally with disfavor because striking a portion of a pleading is a drastic remedy and because it is often sought by the movant simply as a dilatory tactic.'") (quoting 5A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1380 (2d ed. 1990)). Moreover, "where there is any question of fact or any substantial question of law, the court should refrain from acting until some later time when these issues can be more appropriately dealt with." United States v. Fairchild Indus., Inc. , 766 F.Supp. 405 (D. Md. 1991).

A Rule 12(f) motion falls within the discretion of the district court. Palmetto Pharm. LLC v. Astrazeneca Pharm. LP, No. 2:11-cv-00807-SB-JDA , 2012 WL 6025756, at *4 (D.S.C. Nov. 6, 2012) (citation omitted); Xerox Corp. v. Imatek, Inc. , 220 F.R.D. 241, 243 (D. Md. 2003). "When reviewing a motion to strike, the court must view the pleading under attack in a light most favorable to the pleader.'" Piontek v. Serv. Ctrs. Corp., Civil No. PJM 10-1202, 2010 WL 4449419, at *3 (D. Md. Nov. 5, 2010) (citation omitted).

B. The Parties' ...


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