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Gillispie v. Goodyear Service Stores

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Brief Fact Summary. Gillispie (Plaintiff) filed a complaint against certain defendants and the Goodyear Service Stores (Defendants), alleging that the Defendants assaulted the Plaintiff and humiliated and embarrassed her by subjecting her to public scorn and ridicule. The trial court sustained Defendants’ demurrers and the Plaintiff appeals.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A complaint must allege material, essential and ultimate facts upon which Plaintiff’s right of action is based.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

The cardinal requirement of this statute is that the facts constituting a cause of action, rather than the conclusions of the pleader, must be set out in the complaint, so as to disclose the issuable facts determinative of the plaintiff's right to relief.

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Facts. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that the Defendants trespassed on her land. Plaintiff further alleged that Defendants used harsh language, physical force, assaulted the Plaintiff, humiliated and embarrassed Plaintiff, and placed her in fear. As a result of this conduct, Plaintiff was seized and exhibited to the public as a prisoner and confined to a public jail. The Plaintiff sought $25,000 in damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. The trial court sustained Defendant’s demurrers and Plaintiff subsequently appealed.

Issue. Does Plaintiff’s complaint state sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action?

Held. No. Judgment affirmed and Plaintiff may file an amended complaint and therein allege facts upon which she based her right to recover. The Plaintiff’s complaint does not state facts sufficient to constitute any cause of action. A complaint must contain plain and concise statements of the facts constituting the cause of action. Further, the complaint must provide the Defendant with notice to show the legal duty and violation thereof. When a complaint is merely conclusory it fails to state a cause of action and is dismissible. In the instant case, the complaint states no facts upon which legal conclusions were made. Specifically, the complaint fails to state what occurred, when it occurred, where it occurred and who did what.

Discussion. Pleadings are comprised of the complaint, answer, reply and demurrers. The purpose of pleadings is to provide notice to the defendant of the cause of action, to provide notice to the court, and to provide the information necessary to decide the merits of the case.

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