Alternative Pleading

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Alternative pleading allows a pleader to allege two or more claims which are inconsistent with each other.

The purpose of alternative pleading is to allow the pleader to seek relief when the pleader is uncertain about the facts that will be developed during the course of an action as well as to present several alternative explanations of the evidence to the fact finder.  For example, a plaintiff in a car accident may allege that the defendant was negligent and committed battery. While these two theories are inconsistent, the plaintiff may not know during the pleading stage whether the defendant ran into the plaintiff intentionally.

Both the plaintiff and defendant may plead in the alternative. 

In federal court, Rule 8(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows for alternative pleading. See pleading.

[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]