United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
C. Keesler, United States Magistrate Judge.
MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on
“Defendant’s Motion to Strike Portions Of
Plaintiff’s Complaint” (Document No. 4). This
motion has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). Having carefully
considered the motion, the record, and applicable authority,
the undersigned will grant the motion.
Aaron Phifer (“Plaintiff” or
“Phifer”) initiated this action with the filing
of a “Complaint” (Document No. 1-1) in the
Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on
December 17, 2018. Plaintiff asserts claims against the City
Of Charlotte (“Defendant” or
“Charlotte”) based on alleged race and color
discrimination and retaliation related to the Charlotte Fire
Department’s (“CFD”) failure to hire
Plaintiff as a firefighter. (Document No. 1-1). The Complaint
notes that Plaintiff’s father is a 28 year veteran of
the CFD and that his mother is a 26 year veteran of the CFD,
but alleges that Plaintiff was not hired by the CFD based on
his race and because his mother spoke out for diversity,
inclusion and equal opportunity for Black/African American
firefighters. (Document No. 1-1, p. 1). Defendant filed its
“Notice Of Removal” (Document No. 1) based on
federal question jurisdiction with this Court on January 18,
pending “Defendant’s Motion to Strike Portions Of
Plaintiff’s Complaint” (Document No. 4) was filed
on February 18, 2019, and referred to the undersigned on
August 14, 2018. By the instant motion Defendant seeks to
strike seven (7) paragraphs from the Complaint because they
are immaterial and prejudicial. (Document No. 4). This motion
has been fully briefed and is ripe for review and
disposition. See (Document Nos. 5, 8, and 9).
“may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or
any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). Though generally
disfavored, courts have broad discretion in ruling on motions
to strike. Waste Mgmt. Holdings, Inc. v. Gilmore,
252 F.3d 316, 347 (4th Cir. 2001). “The issue before
the Court on a Rule 12(f) motion is not whether evidence is
admissible, but whether it is immaterial, impertinent, and
scandalous.” Fender v. Biltmore Forest Country
Club, Inc., 1:18-CV-043-DLH, 2018 WL 1995532, at *1
(W.D. N.C. April 27, 2018) (quoting Lane v. Endurance Am.
Specialty Ins. Co., 3:10-CV-401-MOC-DCK, 2011 WL
1343201, at *3 (W.D. N.C. April 8, 2011)).
Immaterial describes matter that “has no essential or
important relationship to the claim for relief or the
defenses being pleaded.” 5C Fed. Prac. & Proc.
Civ. § 1382 (3d ed.). Impertinent describes matter
that “do[es] not pertain, and [is] not necessary, to
the issues in question.” Id. Scandalous
material includes matter that reflects on a party’s
moral character or detracts from the dignity of the court.
See Cobell v. Norton, 224 F.R.D. 1, 5 (D.D.C. 2004).
contends the following paragraphs in Plaintiff’s
Complaint are immaterial and prejudicial and should,
therefore, be stricken:
18. In its earliest years, the City’s fire brigade
consisted of volunteer companies segregated on the basis of
race. Once the City's firefighters were paid, Black/
African Americans were excluded.
19. Although the law changed in 1947 so that the CFD could
legally hire Black/ African American firefighters, the CFD
did not actually hire any Black/African Americans until
1967-a full twenty years later.
21. Upon information and belief, under Chief Fincher, the CFD
was approximately 85% white and approximately 15%