A number of recent decisions call into question a defense lawyer’s obligations under Rule 11 in responding to allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint, as well as the substantive question of whether the Iqbal/Twombly pleading standard applies to affirmative defenses.
Judge Milton Shadur, sitting in the Northern District of Illinois, recently struck repeated aversions that a document “speaks for itself” and that the defendant is without sufficient information regarding the allegations, “and, therefore, denies them.” The Court said: “It is of course oxymoronic for a party to assert (presumably in good faith) that it lacks even enough information to form a belief as to the truth of an allegation, then to proceed to deny it. Because such a denial is at odds with the pleader’s obligations under Rule 11(b), the quoted language is stricken from each of those paragraphs of the Answer.”
See Zorba v. Wells Fargo, No.15-8387 (N.D.Ill. Nov. 16, 2015).
Citing State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Riley, 199 F.R.D. 276, 279 (N.D.Ill. 2001) (unacceptable to answer that a document “speaks for itself”) (also finds insufficient the aversion that an allegation “states a legal conclusion”).
See also Racick v. Dominion Law Associates, 270 F.R.D. 228 (E.D.N.C. 2010) (applying Iqbal and Twombly to the pleading of affirmative defenses).