Filing an answer to a complaint in California is the topic of this blog post.
Contacting an experienced litigation attorney as soon as possible once you have been served with a complaint is extremely important as in most cases you will only have 30 calendar days to file your answer with the court.
An experienced litigation attorney will meet with you to discuss your situation as well as review the complaint. They will then decide on the appropriate response to the complaint. If the complaint is defective in some manner they may decide that the best course of action is to file a demurrer or motion to strike instead of filing an answer. If the complaint is not defective they will draft and prepare your answer to the complaint.
California law permits unverified complaints unless a specific statute or code provides otherwise, although any complaint may be verified at the option of plaintiff. Civil complaints in California can be either unverified or verified.
The law in California states that if a complaint is verified the answer to the complaint must be verified. California law also states that any answer to a complaint filed by a governmental entity must be verified. See Code of Civil Procedure § 446. These rules only apply in unlimited civil cases in which the demand of the complaint exceeds $25,000.00.
Verified answers must admit or deny each and every paragraph of the complaint, and must also contain a verification signed by the defendant or defendants stating that they have read the answer and everything contained therein is true and correct to the best of their knowledge. The verification must be signed under penalty of perjury. Failing to verify your answer when one is required will subject the answer to a motion to strike on the grounds that it is not verified.
In your answer to a verified complaint you must admit or deny each and every paragraph of the complaint or deny on the basis of lack of information or belief. Your attorney will go over the complaint with you and tell them what your response is to each and every paragraph.
Your answer must be carefully reviewed as any allegations of a verified complaint that are not specifically denied are deemed admitted.
Answering an unverified complaint in California is much easier as the law in California states that you can answer the complaint with a general denial in which you generally deny all of the allegations of the complaint.
Your attorney will also include what are known as affirmative defenses which they will draft specifically for your answer based on your unique circumstances. An experienced litigation attorney will avoid the use of “boilerplate” affirmative defenses as that type of answer may be objected to on the grounds that the answer fails to state facts sufficient to state any defenses to the complaint.
Common affirmative defenses include:
The statute of limitation which means that the plaintiff has waited too long to file the lawsuit against you.
Failure to state a cause of action which means that the plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action.
Unclean hands which means that the plaintiff has engaged in conduct that should prevent them from winning their case.
Other affirmative defenses include accord and satisfaction, lack of consideration, waiver, laches, and estoppel.
An experienced attorney will draft an answer for you that will meet all of the specific requirements that California law requires for an answer. For example your attorney will ensure that your various affirmative defenses are separately stated and that they refer to the causes of action to which they relate in a manner by which they may be intelligently distinguished. These requirements are imposed by Code of Civil Procedure § 431.30(g).
Thank you for reading. I hope I could have been educational as I endeavor to provide my knowledge as a free public service. Please note that all the materials and information on this blog are general analyses made available for the public’s general informational purposes only. These analyses are not in any way intended to serve as specific legal advice to be applied in your particular situation. Although I am an attorney, absent a signed retention and engagement letter, I am not your attorney. There are no exceptions to this rule. Moreover, you shall not rely on the information I am providing you, as it is only for your general knowledge and educational purposes, since this information would likely change based on any additional facts. Thus the transmission and receipt of information on this blog by anyone does not form or constitute an attorney-client relationship. My knowledge of laws is limited to California. Anyone receiving any information on this blog should not act upon the information provided without first obtaining the services of professional legal counsel licensed in their respective jurisdiction. Best of luck.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR NATHAN MUBASHER:
Law Offices of Nathan Mubasher
2621 Green River Rd, Ste 105 PMB 403
Corona, CA 92882
tel 1-800-691-2721 | fax 1-310-356-3660