United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
Kathleen L. DeSoto United States Magistrate Judge
Allen Armstrong (“Armstrong”) has filed a Motion
to Strike Plaintiff Peter Thompson's
(“Thompson”) response to his Motion to Dismiss
With Prejudice Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P. (Doc.
argues that Thompson's response brief (Doc. 87) violates
L.R. 7.1(d)(2)(A), and 7.1(d)(2)(C) for exceeding the
applicable word limit and for failing to contain a Table of
Contents and Table of Authorities. Armstrong further notes
that Thompson's response moves the Court to obtain
different defense counsel based on an allegation that the
Gallatin County Attorney's Office may possibly become a
defendant in this case. Although Thompson styles the motion
as a “standing objection, ” the remedy he seeks
requires Court action, without filing a separate motion and
brief as required by L.R. 7.1(a) and 7.1(d)(1)(A). For these
reasons, Armstrong asks the Court to strike Doc. 87 in its
entirety, allowing Thompson further time to file a brief that
complies with the Local Rules. In the alternative, if the
Court does not strike Doc. 87, Armstrong asks the Court to
grant him twenty-one (21) days from the denial of his Motion
to Strike to file his reply brief.
admits Armstrong has made a “bona fide” argument
about the prejudice resulting from Doc. 87's violation of
L.R. 7.1(d)(2)(A)'s word count limit, but asks the Court
to deny Armstrong's motion to strike, and allow him 21
days to file a reply as to the motion to dismiss, while
simultaneously ordering Armstrong to consider the
“standing objection” as a separate motion served
and briefed as required under the rules.
argues that the local rules are ambiguous, and that he
interprets the rules to allow the exclusion of pasted blocks
of text and single-spaced citations from the word limit of
L.R. 7.1(d)(2)(A). Thompson also states it is a better
briefing practice to include lengthy quotes from caselaw and
treatises to aid the reader, and notes that the Montana
Supreme Court has accepted his style of briefing. He advises
the Court that in cases he has previously filed in state
court, he simply notified the state court of his violation of
page limits, and complaints about the violations were
disregarded. It appears he suggests that this Court similarly
overlook his rules violations or, alternatively, suspend the
rules for this case for all parties.
83 vests the Court with the authority to enact local rules
and to regulate practice in conformity with the local rules
adopted by the Court. “Local rules have the
‘force of law' and are binding upon the parties and
upon the court . . ..” Prof. Programs Grp. v.
Dep't. of Commerce, 29 F.3d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir.
1994) (citation omitted). Departure from the local rules
“is justified only if the effect is ‘so slight
and unimportant that the sensible treatment is to overlook
[it].'” Prof. Programs, 29 F.3d at 1353
(citations omitted). The Court's Local Rules are an
“attempt to promote orderly and efficient process to
all parties who come before the Court.” Briese v.
Montana, CV-09-146-BLG-RFC-CSO, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
148999, * 27 (D. Mont. October 16, 2012). The Court has
“inherent power to strike a party's
submissions” based on its ability to enforce rules it
has enacted for the management of litigation. Mazzeo v.
Gibbons, CV-08-1387-RLH-PAL, 2010 LEXIS 105798, * 8 (D.
Nev. September 30, 2010) (citations omitted).
response brief violates several local rules, and the
inclusion of a motion within his response brief prejudices
Armstrong, who is limited to 3250 words for his reply brief
per L.R. 7.1(d)(2)(B). However, striking the entirety of Doc.
87 would further delay the determination of Armstrong's
Motion to Dismiss and would unnecessarily require Thompson to
refile that portion of the responsive brief without the
additional motion. Conversely, the remedy suggested by
Thompson would reward his violation of the local rules, of
which he is clearly aware and cavalierly chooses to
disregard. The Court declines to take Thompson up on his
offer to suspend the local rules for this case, and further
notes that the purpose of the local rules-to promote orderly
and efficient process to all parties in the case-would be
frustrated by allowing parties to file briefs which are
unlimited in word count and contain multiple embedded
motions. The local rules are neither onerous nor ambiguous,
and the Court expects all parties to abide by them.
these reasons, the Court grants Armstrong's Motion to
Strike to the extent it seeks to strike that portion of
Thompson's response brief which raises a new motion, and
denies the Motion in all other respects. Although the Court
does not condone Thompson's violation of local rules
governing word count and required Tables, it must balance the
need to enforce the local rules with the need to promote
orderly and efficient determination of the issues raised by
the parties in this case. Accordingly, Armstrong's Motion
to Strike is GRANTED in part, and
DENIED in part. The portion of Doc. 87 that
raises a new motion is hereby stricken, and Armstrong shall