United States District Court, D. Arizona
Douglas L. Rayes United States District Judge
the Court are Plaintiff's motion to dismiss Mr.
Janowiak's counterclaims for lack of jurisdiction (Doc.
11) and motion to strike Defendants' affirmative defenses
2-4 (Doc. 19), which are fully briefed. For the reasons
explained below, the Court will grant Plaintiff's motion
to dismiss and grant in part Plaintiff's motion to
worked as a property manager at Defendant Garden View
Townhomes, LLC (“Garden View”) from approximately
May 1, 2015 until September 20, 2019. (Doc. 26 at 2.) On
October 14, 2019, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Garden
View and Franciszek Janowiak, Garden View's owner and
manager, that asserts claims for violation of the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”) and A.R.S. §§
23-362 - 23-364 stemming from Defendants' alleged failure
to pay her minimum wage or overtime wages during her
employment. (Doc. 1.) On November 8, 2019, Defendants filed
an answer to Plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. 9.) The same
day, Mr. Janowiak asserted counterclaims against Plaintiff
and additional counterdefendants for conversion, unjust
enrichment, and violations of A.R.S. § 13-2314.04
arising from an alleged scheme in which Plaintiff
impersonated Mr. Janowiak and used his credit accounts to
make purchases and to obtain cash advances on behalf of
herself and the other co-counterdefendants. (Doc. 10.) On
November 11, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss Mr.
Janowiak's counterclaims for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, arguing that the counterclaims do not form part
of the same case or controversy necessary for the Court to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction. (Doc. 11.) On November
26, 2019, Defendants filed an amended answer to
Plaintiff's complaint, which amended Defendants'
affirmative defenses to include estoppel, setoff, and unclean
hands defenses based on Plaintiff's alleged credit fraud
scheme. (Doc. 18.) On December 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed a
motion to strike Defendants' affirmative defenses 2-4.
(Doc. 19.) On December 13, 2019, Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint, adding Mr. Janowiak's spouse, Elzbieta
Janowiak, as a Defendant. (Doc. 26.) On December 23, 2019,
Defendants filed an answer to Plaintiff's amended
complaint, which asserts identical affirmative defenses 2-4.
(Doc. 32.) The motions are now ripe.
certain instances, federal courts may maintain supplemental
jurisdiction over counterclaims that have no other basis for
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Particularly, “a
court has jurisdiction over state law claims that are so
related to claims brought under the Court's federal
question jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or
controversy under Article III.” Ader v. SimonMed
Imaging Inc., 324 F.Supp.3d 1045, 1050 (D. Ariz. 2018)
(quotations omitted). To determine whether a counterclaim
constitutes part of the same case or controversy, “the
Court must determine whether the federal claim and the state
claim arise from the same ‘common nucleus of operative
fact.'” Id. (quoting In re Pegasus
Gold Corp., 394 F.3d 1189, 1195 (9th Cir. 2005)). The
Ninth Circuit applies the “liberal logical relationship
test” which studies “whether the essential facts
of the various claims are so logically connected that
considerations of judicial economy and fairness dictate that
all the issues be resolved in one lawsuit.” Pochiro
v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 827 F.2d 1246, 1249 (9th
Cir. 1987) (citation omitted). In applying the test, the
Court assumes the factual allegations in the challenged
pleadings are true and draws all reasonable inferences in the
non-moving party's favor. Poehler v. Fenwick,
No. CV-15-1161-JWS, 2015 WL 7299804, at *1 (D. Ariz. Nov. 19,
Court may strike an affirmative defense that is insufficient,
immaterial, or impertinent. PAE Gov't Servs., Inc. v.
MPRI, Inc., 514 F.3d 856, 858 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f)). An affirmative defense is immaterial if
it does not directly relate to the plaintiff's underlying
claim for relief. Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft
Co., 618 F.3d 970, 975 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation
omitted). An affirmative defense is impertinent if it does
not pertain and is not necessary to the issues in question.
Id. “The function of a 12(f) motion to strike
is to avoid the expenditure of time and money that must arise
from litigating spurious issues by dispensing with those
issues prior to trial.” Ader v. SimonMed Imaging,
Inc., 324 F.Supp.3d 1045, 1049 (D. Ariz. 2018) (citation
Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims
undisputed that there is no independent basis for the
Court's jurisdiction over Defendant's counterclaims.
Plaintiff argues that Mr. Janowiak's counterclaims should
be dismissed because accusations that Plaintiff engaged in
illegal or fraudulent conduct while working at Garden View
are unrelated to the issues central to her FLSA claim-the
hours she worked or the wages or overtime compensation she
was paid-and therefore do not share the same common nucleus
of operative fact. (Doc. 11 at 2-4.) Mr. Janowiak responds
that grounds exist for the Court to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the counterclaims because Plaintiff only
filed her complaint for wage violations in response to Mr.
Janowiak's discovery of her fraudulent use of his credit
cards, and the evidence related to the counterclaims
establishes Plaintiff's lack of credibility. (Doc. 21 at
Court concludes that it is inappropriate to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over Mr. Janowiak's
counterclaims. The fact that all alleged claims and
counterclaims arise out of the same employment relationship,
alone, is insufficient to conclude that they share a common
nucleus of operative fact. Ader, 324 F.Supp.3d at
1050. The Court also is unfamiliar with any authority-and Mr.
Janowiak cites to none-to support the theory that
counterclaims that might discredit a plaintiff's general
credibility share a common nucleus of operative fact with the
plaintiff's claims. Were the Court to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over every counterclaim that, if
proven, might undermine a claimant's credibility, the
exception would swallow the rule.
addition, considerations of judicial economy and fairness do
not dictate that these issues be resolved in one lawsuit.
Discovery for Plaintiff's claim will focus on
Plaintiff's employment status, the hours she worked,
whether an exemption applies to determine whether she is owed
wages and overtime, and whether any violations by Defendants
were willful. Conversely, Mr. Janowiak's ...