Pleading Your Case: the Complaint
A civil lawsuit hasn’t officially begun until the plaintiff in that case files and serves an initial, master document, which is known as the Complaint. A complaint lays down the foundation for a lawsuit, and it contains the key factual allegations while proposing the legal theories upon which the plaintiff believes it is entitled to relief.
Crafting your complaint well is absolutely critical to your lawsuit. Defense lawyers will analyze your complaint in order to determine if it is susceptible to a motion to dismiss--an argument to the Court that you don’t have an actual claim based on the facts in your complaint, and thus your whole case should be thrown out!
So, how do you draft your complaint to withstand such a motion? For each claim for relief, you must plead sufficient facts in support of that claim, to forecast that you’re plausibly going to recover on your claim later. For example, in a typical car wreck case, if you plead that another driver ran a red light, but fail to mention that you got hit and suffered damage as a result, then you’ve failed to plead facts in support of an essential negligence element: damages.
Other dismissals occur when the complaint, itself, demonstrates that a defense applies to the complaint. For example, claiming that someone breached a contract four years ago is likely to subject your complaint to dismissal in North Carolina, where our statute of limitations is three years.
There are many other critical strategy factors to make when drafting a complaint for a lawsuit, including pleading the correct subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, and, especially when it comes to governmental entities, pleading the waiver of sovereign immunity and.or naming the correct defendant agency or official.
If you’re considering filing a complaint in a civil lawsuit, then I strongly recommend that you contact the civil attorneys at Asheville Legal right away. We know the landscape well, and can help you devise a strategy that will maximize your outcome.