An answer to a complaint in United States District Court is the topic of this blog post.
An answer to a complaint in United States District Court must be filed within the time period specified in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure unless you have obtained a stipulation from the opposing party or their attorney, or an order of the court granting you an extension of time to answer.
An answer to a complaint in United States District Court can also include a counterclaim against the plaintiff, or a crossclaim against other parties that involves the same set of facts alleged in the complaint.
Deadline to file an answer to a complaint in United States District Court.
Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure specifies the time period that a defendant has to answer or otherwise respond, that time period is 21 calendar days after being served with the summons and complaint, although there are exceptions which are listed in Rule 12.
Rule 12 states in pertinent part that,
“(a) Time to Serve a Responsive Pleading.
(1) In General. Unless another time is specified by this rule or a federal statute, the time for serving a responsive pleading is as follows:
(A) A defendant must serve an answer:
(i) within 21 days after being served with the summons and complaint; or
(ii) if it has timely waived service under Rule 4(d), within 60 days after the request for a waiver was sent, or within 90 days after it was sent to the defendant outside any judicial district of the United States.
(B) A party must serve an answer to a counterclaim or crossclaim within 21 days after being served with the pleading that states the counterclaim or crossclaim.
(C) A party must serve a reply to an answer within 21 days after being served with an order to reply, unless the order specifies a different time.”
Requirements for an answer to a complaint in United States District Court.
An answer to a complaint in United States District Court should specifically deny each statement in the complaint that is untrue and admit each statement that is true.
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states in pertinent part that,
“(b) Defenses; Admissions and Denials.
(1) In General. In responding to a pleading, a party must:
(A) state in short and plain terms its defenses to each claim asserted against it; and
(B) admit or deny the allegations asserted against it by an opposing party.
(2) Denials—Responding to the Substance. A denial must fairly respond to the substance of the allegation.
(3) General and Specific Denials. A party that intends in good faith to deny all the allegations of a pleading—including the jurisdictional grounds—may do so by a general denial. A party that does not intend to deny all the allegations must either specifically deny designated allegations or generally deny all except those specifically admitted.
(4) Denying Part of an Allegation. A party that intends in good faith to deny only part of an allegation must admit the part that is true and deny the rest.
(5) Lacking Knowledge or Information. A party that lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the truth of an allegation must so state, and the statement has the effect of a denial.
(6) Effect of Failing to Deny. An allegation—other than one relating to the amount of damages—is admitted if a responsive pleading is required and the allegation is not denied. If a responsive pleading is not required, an allegation is considered denied or avoided.
(c) Affirmative Defenses.
(1) In General. In responding to a pleading, a party must affirmatively state any avoidance or affirmative defense, including:
- accord and satisfaction;
- arbitration and award;
- assumption of risk;
- contributory negligence;
- failure of consideration;
- injury by fellow servant;
- res judicata;
- statute of frauds;
- statute of limitations; and
It is very important that an answer to a complaint in United States District Court that you specifically deny each allegation or part of an allegation of the complaint that is untrue as any allegations of the complaint that are not specifically denied in the answer will be deemed admitted.
If you do not have sufficient information or belief as to whether to admit or deny an allegation in the complaint you can deny the allegation based on a lack of information or belief.
An answer to a complaint in United States District Court should also include any affirmative defenses that you may have as well as admitting or denying all of the allegations in the complaint. An affirmative defense is basically a defense where, even assuming that all of plaintiff’s allegations in the complaint were true, the law does not permit the plaintiff to win the case.
An answer to a complaint in United States District Court should include all relevant affirmative defenses as Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that certain defenses may be waived if they are not raised in the answer or another response such as a motion to dismiss. If an affirmative defense is not included in an answer the defendant may not be allowed to raise it later in the case unless they the court grants them leave of court to amend their answer.
An answer to a complaint in United States District Court must also state enough facts to support each affirmative defense. If the answer fails to do so the plaintiff may file a motion to strike the defense on the grounds of an insufficient defense, or an immaterial allegation pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
An experienced litigation attorney can evaluate your situation and determine which affirmative defenses to include in your answer to the complaint as well as determine whether a counterclaim or crossclaim is appropriate.
Nathan Mubasher earned a post-doctorate LL.M. in International Financial Transactions with emphasis on Money Laundering and Compliance at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, a J.D. at American College of Law, and his B.A. at University of California, Riverside. He is a member of the State Bar of California and is admitted to practice before all state and federal courts in California. He is also an active member of the American Health Lawyers Association and the California Society for Healthcare Attorneys. He has performed over 1,000 mediations and has Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) training from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
Contact attorney Nathan Mubasher for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.
Schedule a free consultation today with attorney Nathan Mubasher.
Call (800) 691-2721 and let’s talk about your options.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR NATHAN MUBASHER:
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