Answering a complaint in United States District Court is the topic of this blog post.
If you have been served with a summons and complaint in United States District Court you must answer or otherwise respond within 21 calendar days after being served with the summons and complaint, although there are exceptions which are specified in Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
In your answer you should deny each statement in the complaint that is untrue and admit each statement that is true. See Rule 8(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. If you do not have sufficient information either to admit or deny a statement in the complaint, a statement may be used such as “Defendant has no information or belief that the allegations of paragraph __ are true so defendant denies them.”
Any allegations of the complaint that are not specifically denied will be deemed admitted so make sure that you carefully review the complaint.
In addition to admitting or denying each and every allegation in the complaint you should also include in your answer any legal defense that you may have. See Rule 8(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A legal defense is generally defined as one in which, even assuming that all plaintiff’s allegations in the complaint were true, the law does not permit the plaintiff to win the case.
You need to careful in deciding whether to raise a defense as Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that certain defenses may be waived if they are not raised in the answer or a pre-answer motion. In other words if you do not include a legal defense in your answer you may not be able to raise it later in the case. Be sure to state enough facts for each legal defense, otherwise plaintiff may file a motion to strike the defense under Rule 12(f) on the grounds of an insufficient defense, or an immaterial allegation.
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The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.