IN THE CIRCUIT COUT FOR THE
SEVENTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN
AND FOR BROWARD COUNTY,
CASE NO: CACE -21-021315 Division 3
BEHAR, GUTT, & GLAZER, PA.,
a Florida professional association,
JOSEPH MABE and
DEFENDANTS’ RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO STRIKE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES, MOTION TO STRIKE SCANDALOUS MATTERS, MOTION TO DISMISS COUNTERCLAIM AND/OR FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT
Now Comes the Defendants, JOSEPH MABE and MERRILEE ZAWADZKI, and hereby respond to the Plaintiff’s Motion to Strike Defendants’ Affirmative Defenses, Motion to Strike Scandalous Matters, Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim, and Motion for More Definite Statement. Defendants therefore respond as follows:
The Defendants retained the Plaintiff to represent Defendants in a matter with the Villas of Windmill Point Property Owners Association. A Retainer Agreement was entered to that effect. Consequently, a retainer fee of $5000 was paid by the Defendants to the Plaintiff.
During the proceeding at the case, the Plaintiff failed to meet the expectations of the Defendants as per the Retainer Agreement, which led to contentions about the payment for the Plaintiff. This contention led to the instant case filed on December 12, 2021, which case the Plaintiff filed against the Defendants to attempt to obtain money, which they (Plaintiff) are not entitled to.
Accordingly, on or about December 29, 2021, the Defendants filed an Answer, Affirmative Defenses, and Counterclaim to the Plaintiff’s Complaint.
Consequently, the Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike Defendants’ Affirmative Defenses, Motion to Strike Scandalous Matters, Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim, and Motion for More Definite Statement.
Defendants therefore respond to the said Motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Motions to Strike are not favored by the Courts. Accordingly, Courts sparingly allow Motions to Strike. Any doubts are resolved in favor of the pleadings. See Costa Bella Dev. Corp. v. Costa Dev.Corp., 445 So. 2d 1090, 1090 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984). Courts have deemed them “time wasters.” See Carslon Corporation/Southeast v. School Bd. of Semiole County, Fla., 778 F. Supp. 518 , 519 (M.D. Fla. 1991). Further, it is not a ground to strike a pleading, that a party cannot prove the allegations in the pleadings. See Sanchez v. LaSalle Bank Nat. Ass’n, 44 So. 3d 227, 228 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010).
- The Defendants’ Answer and Affirmative Defenses are sufficient defenses for Plaintiff’s Complaint
A plaintiff must show that the defendant has not stated a legal defense or that the material is entirely without any possible relation to the controversy, wholly irrelevant, with no bearing on the equities and no influence at all on the decision. See decision. Bay Colony Office Bldg. Joint Venture v. Wachovia Mortg. Co., 342 So. 2d 1005, 1006 (Fla. 4th DCA 1977).
Besides, the list of Affirmative Defenses under Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.110(d) is not exhaustive. Notably, the said provision states that a party relying on an Affirmative Defense may allege “any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense.” Further, it is the intent of the legislators that the defense be given a broad interpretation by the Courts. Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.110(d) provides in that regard that “[w]hen a party has mistakenly designated a defense as a counterclaim or a counterclaim as a defense, the court, on terms if justice so requires, shall treat the pleading as if there had been a proper designation.”
In the instant action, the Defendants have stated Affirmative Defenses, which defeat the Plaintiff’s allegations in the Complaint. Notably, affirmative defenses if a valid affirmative defense is timely plead and proven, it could totally defeat or partial reduce, the claims raised by the plaintiff in the complaint. See State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Curran, 135 So. 3d 1071, 1079 (Fla. 2014) (quoting St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co. v. Coucher, 837 So. 2d 483, 487 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002)). It is also worth noting that affirmative defenses avoid liability, in whole or in part, by alleging an excuse, justification, or other matter negating or limiting liability.”
- The Defendant’s Pleading directly concerns the controversy, is wholly relevant, has a direct bearing on the equities and has an influence on the decision.
The Florida Supreme Court has defined a sham pleading as one that is “palpably or inherently false, and from the plain or conceded facts in the case, must have been known to the party interposing it to be untrue.” Rhea v. Hackney, 117 Fla. 62, 70, 157 So. 190, 193 (1934). To strike a pleading as a sham, a party must so move before trial, and the trial court must conduct an evidentiary hearing. See Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.150(a).
“The test whether [a] pleading is good or bad” should be “whether the adversary is actually able to understand the pleading and make answer.” See Hankin’s Alternative and Hypothetical Pleading (1924), 33 Yale L.J., at page 366. If there is nothing uncertain about the essential elements of the pleading, then there is no reason why it should be held bad. Id.
If a pleading, taken as a whole, states cause of action or defense, it should not be dismissed or struck out. See Harrell v. Hess Oil & Chemical Corp., 287 So. 2d 291, 295 (Fla. 1973) (reversing dismissal based on surplusage); Balbontin v. Porias, 215 So. 2d 732, 734 (Fla. 1968) (“Even though [a pleading] violates spirit and intent of rules of pleading, if [the pleading] as a whole, in any part, stated cause of action, the remaining parts could be considered as surplusage.”); Beraglia v. Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp., 606 So. 2d 1213, 1214 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992).
. In the instant action, the Defendants aver that the pleading sufficiently meets the pleading requirements. Notably, Defendants have pled with certainty, and have alleged ultimate facts establishing the defendant’s defense and case (for the counterclaim), under the legal principle stated therein. The Defendants have outlined how the Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to point out any liability on Defendants. Further, the Defendants responses are all based on the allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint. It cannot therefore be argued that the Defendants raised any defense that is not related to the controversy in question. It is also notable that all the Defendants’ responses are grounded on recognized legal principles, which Defendants have backed with pertinent supporting facts.
WHEREFORE, these premises considered, Defendants move this court to deny the allegations in Plaintiff’s Motion to Defendants’ Affirmative Defenses, Motion to Strike Scandalous Matters, Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim, and Motion for More Definite Statement; and to dismiss the Motion in its entirety. Defendants also pray the venue of this Case be changed to the Port Saint Lucie County, Florida or Palm Beach County, Florida. Finally, Defendants pray this Court grant any other remedy it deems just.
|Respectfully submitted, /s/Merrilee Zawadzki Merrilee Zawadzki 101 S. Union Street, Ste. 106 Plymouth, MI 48170 Respectfully submitted, /s/Joseph Mabe Joseph Mabe 174 SW Colesbury Avenue Port St. Lucie, FL 34953|
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the foregoing has been served via the indicated method on this ______ day of January, 2022 on the following parties:
Via Florida E-portal
BEHAR, GUTT & GLAZER, P.A.
IRA GUTT, ESQ.
STACEY L. GLADDING, ESQ.
1855 GRIFFIN ROAD
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL 33004
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