Under FRCP 12(c), a motion for judgment on the pleadings is a way for a party to challenge the substantive sufficiency of an opposing party’s pleadings. Under FRCP 12(f), a motion to strike is a way to challenge the substantive sufficiency of defenses in an answer. For instance, in Biggs v. Pub. Serv. Coordinated Transp., 280 F.2d 311 (3d. Cir. 1960), the court held that the defendant’s general denial of the plaintiff’s jurisdictional allegations could not possibly apply to the allegation that the defendant was a New Jersey corporation, and that the only fair interpretation of the answer is that that allegation must be deemed to be admitted. A defendant typically can rely on a general denial to say it has denied specific allegations in a plaintiff’s complaint. Thus, in Ways v. City of Lincoln, 2002 WL 1742664 (D. Neb. 2002), the court found that the defendants had effectively denied certain particular allegations because the defendants had stated in their answer that they “[d]eny that Plaintiff is entitled to any relief at law or in equity as alleged in the Complaint," and that they “[d]eny each and every other allegation contained in Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint except those specifically admitted herein . . . .” Id. at *23.
Under FRCP 7(a), a plaintiff must reply to an answer that contains counterclaims. Otherwise, whether to require a reply to an answer is within the discretion of the court.
Under FRCP 8(b)(6), allegations to which a reply is not required are considered avoided or denied and a plaintiff may controvert them at trial, while allegations to which a reply is required are taken as admitted if not denied in the reply or if a reply is not filed.
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