Welcome! Login | Register
 

Happy Thanksgiving Central MA—This holiday season, be sure to give love,…

25 Ways to Give in Central MA this Holiday Season—The holidays are a time of giving -…

Celebrate Thanksgiving Weekend at Old Sturbridge Village with Your WOO Card—The weekend is fast approaching, and GoLocalWorcester brings…

Newport Manners & Etiquette: Thanksgiving & More—Last minute Thanksgiving etiquette questions you may also…

Harr Motor Group Donates Coats to Families in Need—Worcester”s Harr Motor Group’s Coats for Kids program…

The Cellar: Thanksgiving Add-Ons—Thanksgiving is upon us and if you’re into…

Paul Giorgio: The Political Roots of Thanksgiving—Tomorrow we celebrated Thanksgiving, the most political of…

Three Holy Cross Football Players Make All-Patriot League Team—Three Hol Cross football players receive All-Patriot League…

Rob Horowitz: Obama’s Immigration Executive Order; Good Policy and Good Politics—President Obama’s carefully calibrated, but still truly impacting…

Saul Kaplan: Thankful Innovation Junkie—I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. What’s…

 
 

Leonardo Angiulo: What to do When Facing a Civil Complaint

Monday, September 03, 2012

 

Leonardo Angiulo, GoLocalWorcester Legal Expert

It never fails. When people get a summons and civil complaint delivered to their home or workplace panic sets in. To be honest, I wouldn't want that experience. It is also true, however, that there's no need to worry in such an occasion. Filing an answer to a complaint is a simple task when entrusted with the right Attorney.

The rules of engagement for civil lawyers are contained within the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure available here.

Within these rules is the requirement that a responsive pleading, also known as an answer, must be filed within twenty days of a defendant being served with a complaint. Knowing what to put in the answer, however, is a separate issue. Getting an Attorney to represent you as soon as you are served can help answer some short term questions that have long term consequences

Just like a complaint is meant to give a defendant fair notice of the allegations, an answer is meant to provide the plaintiff with notice of the defenses in fact and law. A complaint includes factual allegations that in numbered paragraphs identifying who is being sued and why. Within the answer a defendant responds to each numbered paragraph and puts their position down on paper. In addition, the defendant is required to include any affirmative defenses to the complaint in that answer. An affirmative defense is one which limits culpability but requires an additional showing of fact by the party claiming that defense. By including a defense in the answer it raises the issue for consideration at trial and during the pretrial discovery process.

To complicate things, there are some defenses raised by motions filed prior to answering the complaint. These defenses are contained within Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b) available here and a good portion of the first year of law school is dedicated to these defenses. A number of the Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b) issues are particular to practice in the courts of the Commonwealth. For example, Rule 12(b)(10) discusses the dismissal of cases that claim too much or too little in damages. If a case deals with damages greater than or equal to $25,000.00 then the matter belongs in Superior Court according to Massachusetts General Laws c. 212, section 3 available here.

If, however, the case deals with a monetary value below that it should be filed in District Court consistent with Massachusetts General Laws c. 218, section 19 found here. In summary, whether to file such a motion is highly fact specific and requires consultation with qualified legal counsel.

Properly answering a complaint is not so different from building a house. In construction, the walls need to be on center and level or the whole structure will fail. When defending a lawsuit you have to know how to frame the legal issues from the beginning. By responding to the facts appropriately and properly raising the correct issues of law as affirmative defenses provides the support you need to win your case. Having counsel involved before an answer is due is the way to make sure a case starts well and ends in the best way possible. 

 

Related Articles

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.