United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
JACQUELINE JOUBERT, KATHERINE PATTEN, KETON HOLLINGSWORTH, DEMETRIS STOKES, and OLGA MARIA ACEVEDO, Plaintiffs,
ZACHARY HUSSAIN; SONDY LAWRENCE; TINA BLAND; VICTORY DUNCAN; JIM HANNAH; HARRIET COLES; MICHAEL NEWMAN; CHERI NEWMAN; LISA CHILDS; WAYLON CAWLEY; EDNA AWAD; and COLUMBIA COUNTY, GEORGIA, Defendants.
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court are Defendants Zachary Hussain, Sondy Lawrence,
Tina Bland, Victory Duncan, Jim Hannah, Harriet Coles,
Michael Newman, Cheri Newman, Lisa Childs, Waylon Cawley, and
Edna Awad's ("Individual Defendants") motion
for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 17) and Defendant
Columbia County, Georgia's ("Defendant Columbia
County") motion to strike portions of the amended
complaint (Doc. 34) . As an initial matter, the
Court DENIES AS MOOT the motion for judgment
on the pleadings (Doc. 17). After the Individual Defendants
filed their motion, Plaintiffs filed an amended
complaint. "It is well-established that an
amended complaint super[s]edes an original complaint and
renders the original complaint without legal effect."
Renal Treatment Ctrs.-Mid-Atl., Inc. v. Franklin
Chevrolet-Cadillac-Pontiac-GMC, No. 608CV087, 2009 WL
995564, at *1 (S.D. Ga. Apr. 13, 2009) (quoting In re
Wireless Tel. Fed. Cost Recovery Fees Litig., 396 F.3d
922, 928 (8th Cir. 2005)) (citing Fritz v. Standard Sec.
Life Ins. Co. of N.Y., 676 F.2d 1356, 1358 (11th Cir.
1982)); accord Dresdner Bank AG v. M/V Qlympia
Voyager, 463 F.3d 1210, 1215 (11th Cir. 2006) (finding
that the prior complaint "is no longer a part of the
pleader's averments against his adversary");
Malowney v. Fed. Collection Deposit Grp., 193 F.3d
1342, 1345 n.l (11th Cir. 1999) ("An amended complaint
supersedes an original complaint."). Here, the amended
complaint supersedes the original complaint effectively
mooting Individual Defendants' motion for judgment on the
Court now turns to the pending motion to strike. Defendant
Columbia County argues Plaintiffs' amended complaint
contains material protected by the attorney-client privilege
and work-product doctrine. (Mot. to Strike, Doc. 22, at 1.)
Thus, according to Defendant Columbia County, under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), the Court should strike the
protected material. For the following reasons, the Court
DENIES Defendant Columbia County's
motion (Doc. 34).
relevant facts are not in dispute. Kowanda Tenkapowom owns
property located at 225 Anneswood Road, Martinez, Georgia
30907, which housed a personal care home. (Am. Compl., ¶
63; Personal Care Home Permit, Doc. 32-1.) On June 21, 2018,
Plaintiff Olga Acevedo and Ms. Tenkapowom applied to Columbia
County to have the property rezoned from R-3 to S-l. (Zoning
Application, Doc. 32-5.) On August 2, 2018, the Columbia
County Planning Commission considered the rezoning request.
(Am. Compl., ¶¶ 65-66.) The Columbia County Board
of Commissioners ultimately denied the rezoning request.
(Rezoning Decision, Doc. 32-10.)
Plaintiff Acevedo filed an Open Records Act Request with
Defendant Columbia County for all zoning applications and
documents held by the Columbia County Planning Department
related to specific properties. (Patrice Crawley's Decl.,
Doc. 31-1, ¶ 6; Reply Supp. Mot. to Strike, Doc. 31, at
3.) One such property was located at 339 Marshall Place,
Martinez, Georgia 30907. (Patrice Crawley's Decl., ¶
6.) In 2007, the Planning Commission was faced with a
rezoning request for the property located at 339 Marshall
Place. (Id.; Am- Compl., ¶ 125.) Defendant
Columbia County sought legal advice on its options around the
rezoning request, which was to change the "S-l zoning to
expand the permitted uses on the property from care for
elderly to services for people with disabilities including
'severely handicapped, developmental disabilities and
substance abusers.'" (Letter, Doc. 32-9, at 1.)
Counsel's letter in response (the "Letter") is
attached to the amended complaint as Exhibit L.
do not dispute that the Letter contains opinion work product
and was protected by the attorney-client privilege.
(See Resp. to Mot. to Strike, Doc. 26, at
4.) Plaintiffs possess the Letter because, in
responding to the open records act, Defendant Columbia County
inadvertently produced the Letter. (Id.) Plaintiffs
do not challenge that the disclosure was inadvertent.
(See id. at 8.)
Columbia County filed the present motion to strike the Letter
and all references thereto under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(f). Because the parties agree that the Letter
was privileged, protected, and inadvertently disclosed, the
only question remaining for the Court is whether Defendant
Columbia County shows the Court that the Letter should be
struck from the record under Rule 12(f).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), "The court may
strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any
redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter." The Court has "broad discretion in
considering a motion to strike under [Rule] 12(f)."
Bledsaw v. Carnival Corp., No. 15-23647, 2015 WL
9594296, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 30, 2015); see Bingham v.
HCA, Inc., Fed.Appx. 2019 WL 3451045, at *5 (11th Cir.
2019) ("We review the district court's grant of [the
defendant] 's motion to strike alleged facts from [the
plaintiff] 's [complaint] under [Rule] 12(f) for an abuse
of discretion. . . . The abuse of discretion standard allows
a range of choice for the district court, so long as that
choice does not constitute a clear error of judgment."
(internal citations omitted)). Furthermore, "[s]triking
allegations from a pleading . . . 'is a drastic
remedy to be resorted to only when required for the purposes
of justice' and only when the stricken allegations have
'no possible relation to the controversy."'
Bledsaw, 2015 WL 9594296, at *1 (quoting
Augustus v. Bd. of Pub. Instruction of Escambia
Cty., 306 F.2d 862, 868 (5th Cir. 1962)).
Columbia County argues that the Court should strike the
Letter and any reference thereto under Rule 12(f) because the
Letter (1) is redundant, immaterial, impertinent, and
scandalous and (2) contains protected information. For the
reasons discussed below, the Court declines to use its
discretion to strike the requested material from the record.
Redundant, Immaterial, Impertinent, or Scandalous
Columbia County states that the Letter contains information
that is redundant, immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous
and the Court has the authority to "narrow the issues
to those allegations that are relevant and properly before
the Court." (Mot. to Strike, at 5-6.) Plaintiffs respond
that the Letter is relevant, serving "as evidence that
not only did the County violate federal law, but that they