plea in abatement

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A plea in abatement is a procedural device and type of demurrer used to challenge a complaint. It does not dispute the plaintiff's cause of action, but rather relies on additional facts (outside the pleadings) to object to the place, time, or mode of asserting the cause of action. A plea of abatement calls for an action to be abated until the defect is cured. In other words, a successful plea in abatement does not prevent the plaintiff from continuing action once he or she corrects the defect. As such, this device is meant to suspend and delay an action rather than terminating it altogether. Pleas in abatement are not favored by courts because they delay an action. As such, they are subject to strict procedural rules. The asserting defendant must affirmatively assert the plea promptly or the defense will be lost. For example, the Second Appellate District of California has held that any pleas in abatement not included with the answer are deemed waived and seldom accepted in the later stages of trial. 

Pleas in abatement are sometimes used to challenge a court's jurisdiction. The court of appeals has held that a plea in abatement is the proper method for drawing a court's attention to another interrelated action. Generally, the court in which the first action was filed has dominant jurisdiction, and if the subject matter of two actions are inherently interrelated, then the plea in abatement must be granted in the second court.  

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