pleading: an overview
Pleading is the beginning stage of a lawsuit in which parties formally submit their claims and defenses. The plaintiff submits a complaint stating the cause of action -- the issue or issues in controversy. The defendant submits an answer stating his or her defenses and denials. The defendant may also submit a counterclaim stating a cause of action against the plaintiff. Pleadings serve an important function of providing notice to the defendant that a lawsuit has been instituted concerning a specific controversy or controversies. It also provides notice to the plaintiff of the defendant's intentions in regards to the suit.
Old common law rules of pleading were complicated and rigourous. Meritorious complaints were often thrown out of court for technical flaws in form rather than substance. Today, in most if not all states, a pleading must no longer conform to archaic formats but may be a simple petition or complaint setting forth the relevant facts and asking for a remedy.
Pleadings are part of a larger category of procedural rules. In state court, pleadings are generally governed by state procedural rules (for example, see California's rules - Title VI ). In federal court, pleadings are generally governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (See Rules 7-12).
menu of sources
- Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 7-12
State Court Rules
State Judicial Decisions
- N.Y. Court of Appeals:
- Appellate Decisions from Other States
Useful Offnet (or Subscription - $) Sources
- Good Starting Point in Print: Kevin M. Clermont, Black Letter on Civil Procedure, West Group (2004)
- LII Disk Materials