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A demurrer challenges a complaint by asserting that the complaint at issue should be dismissed because it fails to state sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action. Essentially, this defense asserts that even if all the factual allegations in a complaint are true, they do not give rise to a legally cognizable claim for relief

  • For example, if someone filed a complaint saying that their coworker gave them a dirty look, even if this allegation is factually true, the law does not provide a remedy for this type of wrong. 
    • Thus, such a complaint would be subject to a demurrer.

The demurrer is encompassed by the modern federal or state rules of civil procedure as a motion to dismiss a complaint for the “the failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” It is also often referred to as a “12(b)(6) motion,” in reference to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6) which provides that a party may assert as a defense by motion the failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

[Last updated in September of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]