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How to draft Civil Pleadings


WHAT IS A LAWSUIT COMPLAINT OR CLAIM?

A complaint is the initial document a plaintiff files with the Clerk of Court to begin a lawsuit. The complaint will list the facts of the case or event, what the defendant(s) did wrong and what the plaintiff is seeking in damages (typically the plaintiff seeks some sort of monetary compensation). The complaint must be filed it the Court. The appropriate court is the district where the plaintiff resides or does business, where the defendant resides or does business, or where the events or transactions of the case occurred. The complaint is then served on the defendant where he or she will have time to review the allegations made against them and file an answer. A summons must accompany a complaint.

WHAT IS A LAWSUIT SUMMONS?

A summons must accompany a complaint when a lawsuit is filed by the plaintiff. A summons is a formal notice given to the defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against them. In plain terms, the summons acts as an instruction guide for the party to let them know exactly what to do next. It will state what day they need to appear in court (if appropriate) and the proper address and time frame to respond to the complaint with an answer.

WHAT IS A LAWSUIT COMPLAINT OR CLAIM?

A complaint is the initial document a plaintiff files with the Clerk of Court to begin a lawsuit. The complaint will list the facts of the case or event, what the defendant(s) did wrong and what the plaintiff is seeking in damages (typically the plaintiff seeks some sort of monetary compensation). The complaint must be filed it the Court. The appropriate court is the district where the plaintiff resides or does business, where the defendant resides or does business, or where the events or transactions of the case occurred. The complaint is then served on the defendant where he or she will have time to review the allegations made against them and file an answer. A summons must accompany a complaint.

LAWSUIT ANSWER

An answer is a formal document filed by the defendant(s) with the proper court in which they were initially served a complaint. The answer will deny or admit the allegations, line-by-line as requested in the complaint. Additionally, the answer is important to bring any defenses the defendant may want to raise such as the claim is beyond the statute of limitations or that there is no claim for which damages is owed. A defendant may also want to counterclaim, or seek damages for something they feel the plaintiff did wrong. A counterclaim should be filed at the same time as the answer. The answer must be filed within the time period listed on the original summons. If an answer is not filed within a timely manner, the court may issue a default judgment ordering the defendant to pay the damages as requested by the plaintiff. A defendant may want to seek the advice of an attorney before filing an answer to provide the best possible defense.

MOTION TO DISMISS

A Motion to Dismiss may be filed by either party, the plaintiff or defendant, when the party feels as though a lawsuit is not warranted or appropriate given the situation. A Motion to Dismiss may be filed at any time during the litigation process. The party must state in detail why there is enough factual evidence and legal basis to have the lawsuit dismissed. A judge will review the motion to determine its merit, and if he or she determines there is not enough evidence or any legal basis to bring the suit any further, the claim will be dismissed.

REQUEST FOR ADMISSIONS

Request for Admissions is a common request in the Discovery process of a lawsuit. A Request for Admissions will ask the opposing party to admit or deny facts and allegations in the case. These answers are legally binding, and the opposing party must answer them truthfully or run the risk of committing perjury.

REQUEST FOR INTERROGATORIES

Request for Interrogatories is a common request in the Discovery process of a lawsuit. A Request for Interrogatories will ask the opposing party a series of questions to help aid in the fact finding process of the case. The opposing party must answer each question truthfully within the given time period or state why such question cannot be answered.

REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION

Request for Production is a common request in the Discovery process of a lawsuit. A Request for Production will ask the opposing party to produce documents relating to the case. Typically these requests include bank statements, other financial records, contracts, etc. The opposing party must produce such documents within a given time period or give a reason as to why the documents cannot be produced.

MOTION TO COMPEL

A Motion to Compel may filed by the party themselves (if they are representing themselves), but is typically filed by the party’s attorney. A Motion to Compel should be filed with the appropriate court when the opposing party refuses to produce documents or answer questions in Discovery which the party feels is necessary for the case. The Motion will state why the information should be provided, outline how the opposing party has failed to answer, and ask that the judge compel the opposing party to produce the information through a written court order.

WHAT IS A DEFAULT JUDGMENT?

When the defendant fails to answer the complaint in a timely manner or at all, the plaintiff may request that the judge enter a default judgment. A default judgment awards the plaintiff reasonable damages requested in the complaint. The defendant then has a specified time period to refute the judgment, pay on the judgment, or risk contempt of court.

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