In a recent decision, a respected U.S. District Judge confirmed and adopted the well-reasoned report and recommendation of a U.S. Magistrate Judge to deny a plaintiff's motion to strike certain affirmative defenses in a statutory first-party bad faith case in Florida. Cadle v. GEICO General Insurance Co., 2014 WL 793339 (M.D. Fla. February 27, 2014)(Presnell, USDJ; Kelly, USMJ). However, the affirmative defenses were not stricken because they were well taken but instead because for the most part, they were denials of the complaint and were not really affirmative defenses at all.
This was the holding with respect to the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth affirmative defenses, namely, that they are not true affirmative defenses but are instead general denials. In Federal Court, "[w]hen a specific denial is labeled as an affirmative defense, a court will generally treat the defense as a denial and not strike it." Cadle v. GEICO General Insurance Co., 2014 WL 793339 *2 (M.D. Fla. February 27, 2014).
That left two affirmative defenses, at least as far as the Court's discussion of the plaintiff's motion to strike. One was the defendant's second affirmative defense of "setoff". The plaintiff argued that there is no setoff available in a first-party bad faith case in Florida; the defendant argued that there is. Neither side cited any supporting authority, however, according to the Court. It comes as no surprise, then, that the motion to strike this material was denied. Cadle v. GEICO General Insurance Co., 2014 WL 793339 *2 (M.D. Fla. February 27, 2014).
Finally, the only remaining defensive matter under discussion on this motion to strike was the third affirmative defense in this case, which was simply that plaintiff's punitive damages claim in this case is barred by Section 627.737(4) of the Florida Statutes. The motion to strike was denied as moot in this respect because the Court previously granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's request for punitive damages. Cadle v. GEICO General Insurance Co., 2014 WL 793339 *3 (M.D. Fla. February 27, 2014).
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