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Lockheed Martin Corp. v. United States

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

September 26, 2013

LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion to Strike. The Court has reviewed the record and deems a hearing unnecessary. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion to Strike.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a Maryland corporation headquartered in Bethesda. Plaintiff alleges that it is a global security and aerospace company that primarily researches, designs, manufactures, integrates, and sustains advanced technology systems and products. Plaintiff further alleges that it makes substantial sales to the United States Government.

Plaintiff has brought this action for a refund of federal income taxes allegedly overpaid in the years 2004 – 2008. Plaintiff basically alleges that the IRS improperly applied various tax credits, deductions, and exclusions. The minimum amount Plaintiff seeks to recover is $16, 157, 226.

Plaintiff filed a Complaint in December 2012 and an Amended Complaint in May 2013. Doc. Nos. 1, 16. Defendant has answered. Doc. No. 17. In its Answer, under the heading “Second Defense, ” Defendant states:

Should the Court determine that Plaintiff raised a meritorious argument that would otherwise establish that Plaintiff overpaid its taxes, the United States is entitled to reduce that overpayment based on any additional tax liabilities that the Plaintiff may owe, whether or not previously assessed or alleged. The United States is entitled to such reduction because the redetermination of the Plaintiff’s entire federal income tax liability for the litigated tax years is at issue in this refund suit.

Doc. No. 17 at 1 (citations omitted).

On June 10, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike Defendant’s Second Affirmative Defense (“Motion to Strike”). Doc. No. 19. Plaintiff generally argues that the pleading standards enunciated in Twombly and Iqbal apply to affirmative defenses and that the United States’ Second Defense is a facially implausible legal conclusion. The United States filed a Response on June 24, 2013. Doc. No. 25. The United States generally argues that its Second Defense is not a true affirmative defense and that Twombly and Iqbal do not apply to affirmative defenses.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

“Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) permits a district court, on motion of a party, to “‘order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense.’” Waste Mgmt. Holdings, Inc. v. Gilmore, 252 F.3d 316, 347 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f)). “Rule 12(f) motions are generally viewed 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.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The decision whether to strike an affirmative defense is discretionary and courts generally refrain from striking affirmative defenses absent a showing that not doing so would unfairly prejudice the movant. See Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London v. R.J. Wilson & Assocs., Ltd., Civil No. CCB–11–1809, 2012 WL 2945489, at *5 (D. Md. July 17, 2012) (citations omitted).

III. LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. Whether Twombly and Iqbal Apply to Affirmative Defenses

Plaintiff’s argument that the Court should strike Defendant’s Second Defense as insufficient proceeds from the premise that the pleading standards announced in Twombly and Iqbal generally apply to affirmative defenses. Although Defendant argues that the Court need not resolve this question to ...


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