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Chapter 4


ChapterScope This Chapter covers pleading, the process by which the parties to a litigation spell out their claims and defenses. The emphasis in this chapter is on the pleading provisions of the Federal Rules. These exemplify the modern, non-technical approach to pleading, and have served as the model for the pleading provisions of many states. The most important concepts in this Chapter are:

  • Two types: In most instances, there are only two types of pleadings in a federal action. These are the complaint and the answer. The complaint is the document by which the plaintiff begins the case. The answer is the defendant's response to the complaint.
    • Reply: In some circumstances, there will be a third document, called the reply. The reply is, in effect, an “answer to the answer.” Most often, a reply is allowable if the answer contains a counterclaim (in which case a reply is required).
  • Elements of complaint: There are three essential elements which a complaint must have:
    • Jurisdiction: A short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends;
    • Statement of the claim: A short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
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