Another update on the WWE and MLW lawsuit
WWE filed a motion against MLW’s motion to strike their defenses in the case. This was done on September 8th. There is currently a motion hear scheduled for mid-October. MLW has until September 15th to respond. Check out the lawsuit update via PWInsider.
“The U.S. District CPlaintiff MLW Media LLC’s (“MLW”) motion to strike (“Mot.”) never should have been filed, and should be denied. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (“WWE”) served its Answer to MLW’s Amended Complaint on August 14, 2023.
Eleven days later, MLW filed this motion without ever so much as mentioning the issues raised in it to WWE, much less asking WWE to amend or withdraw any of its Affirmative Defenses, before filing.
As MLW acknowledges, the purpose of motions to strike under Rule 12(f) is “to avoid the expenditure of time and money that will arise from litigating spurious issues.” But MLW’s motion does the opposite. It wastes the Court’s time and resources by litigating issues that could have, and should have, been resolved between the parties.
WWE’s August 14 pleading is entirely proper, and meets the relevant pleading standards established by the Ninth Circuit. All that Rule 8 requires of WWE is to “affirmatively state” its affirmative defenses. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(c). The key question is whether WWE has provided MLW “fair notice” of the bases of those defenses. And the Ninth Circuit has held that such “fair notice” only requires describing such defenses in “general terms.” Kohler v. Flava Enters., Inc., 779 F.3d 1016, 1019 (9th Cir. 2015).
While it is true that some courts in this District have applied Twombly and Iqbal’s plausibility standards to affirmative defenses (as MLW argues) notwithstanding Kohler, MLW ignores that courts are split on this question and that the predominant approach in the Ninth Circuit applies the more forgiving “fair notice” standard. WWE has met this “fair notice” standard by pleading self-evident and well-recognized affirmative defenses of the type that are routinely pleaded in similar terms in district courts across this Circuit. Moreover, motions to strike are heavily disfavored in this Circuit. Courts have described the movant’s burden as “heavy,” “demanding,” and “formidable,” and regularly deny such motions in the absence of a showing of prejudice to the moving party.
MLW has not even attempted to make any such showing of prejudice here. Nor could it. MLW does not explain how the supposed insufficiency of WWE’s pleading renders it unable to adequately pursue discovery, nor how any of WWE’s affirmative defenses as pleaded will create additional, burdensome discovery. In fact, WWE has already provided information about one of the key defenses that MLW seeks to strike, in response to MLW’s interrogatories.
For these reasons, MLW’s motion should be denied. Nevertheless, to avoid more needless litigation over these issues, WWE requests, in the alternative, that MLW’s motion be denied as moot and submits herewith (as Exhibit A, with a redline against the prior Answer attached as Exhibit B) a proposed amended Answer that addresses several of the objections that MLW has raised by withdrawing certain Affirmative Defenses and adding detailed allegations that eliminate any possible doubt as to the sufficiency of the remaining Affirmative Defenses.
For these reasons, and as set out below, WWE respectfully requests that the Court either deny MLW’s motion in its entirety as legally unfounded, or, in the alternative, accept WWE’s proposed amended answer and deny the motion as moot.”