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Complaint

Complaint Definition

The pleading that starts a case.  Essentially, a document that sets forth a  jurisdictional basis for the court's power, the plaintiff's cause of action , and a demand for judicial relief .

Overview

A plaintiff starts a civil action by filing a pleading called a complaint. A complaint must state all of the plaintiff's claims against the defendant , and must also specify what remedy the plaintiff wants. After receiving the complaint, the defendant must respond with an answer .

Traditionally, in accord with federal courts' system of notice pleading , complaints (like other pleadings ) did not need to be very specific, and did not need to specify the facts the plaint nhssxivq. moncler 'vancouver' shearling bootiff intends to prove. The Supreme Court introduced a heightened standard for complaints in 2007 with the case Bell Atlantic v. Twombly .  This case requires that a complaint must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." 

Complaints must be served on defendants. This lets defendants know that they are being sued and why. See Federal Rules of Civil Procedure , particularly Rules 3 , 7 , 8 , and 10 . See also the federal courts' website for sample complaints.

Although some state courts model their pleading rules on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure , other states use very different rules. Thus, pleading standards for complaints may vary widely from state to state, or between state and federal courts located in the same state. See State Civil Procedure Rules .

The Supreme Court recently reiterated the level of detail required in a complaint in the case of Ashcroft v. Iqbal .

See also Civil Procedure ;

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Complaint
complaint (redirected from Civil Complaint )
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia. Complaint

The Pleading that initiates a civil action; in Criminal Law, the document that sets forth the basis upon which a person is to be charged with an offense.

Civil Complaint

A civil complaint initiates a civil lawsuit by setting forth for the court a claim for relief from damages caused, or wrongful conduct engaged in, by the defendant. The complaint outlines all of the plaintiff's theories of relief, or causes of action (e.g., Negligence, Battery, assault), and the facts supporting each Cause of Action. The complaint also serves as notice to the defendant that legal action is underway. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern construction of complaints filed in federal courts. Many state courts follow the same rules as the federal courts, or similar rules.

The caption opens the complaint and identifies the location of the action, the court, the docket or file number, and the title of the action. Each party to the lawsuit must be identified in the caption and must be a real party in interest, that is, either a person who has been injured or harmed in some way, or a person accused of causing the injury or harm. In addition, a party must have the capacity to sue or to be sued. If a party lacks capacity owing to mental incompetence, for example, the suit may be dismissed. Any number of parties may be named and joined in a single lawsuit as long as all meet the requirements of capacity and all are real parties in interest.

Courts of limited–subject matter jurisdiction, such as federal courts, require the complaint to demonstrate that the court has jurisdiction to hear the case. In general-jurisdiction courts, such as most state courts, a jurisdictional allegation is unnecessary.

The most critical part of the complaint is the claim, or cause of action. The claim is a concise and direct statement of the basis upon which the plaintiff seeks relief. It sets forth the Rule of Law that forms the basis of the lawsuit and recounts the facts that support the rule of law. Finally, the claim concludes that the defendant violated the rule of law, thereby causing the plaintiff's injuries or damages, and that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. For example: A negligence claim might begin with a statement that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff; that the defendant breached that duty; and that, as a result, the plaintiff suffered injuries or other damages. The conclusion then states that because the defendant's breach was the cause of the plaintiff's injuries, the plaintiff is entitled to compensation from the defendant.

The complaint may state separate claims or theories of relief in separate counts. For example, in a negligence case, count 1 might be for negligence, count 2 for breach of Warranty, and count 3 for Fraud. Each count contains a separate statement of the rule of law, supporting facts, and conclusion. There is no limit to the number of counts a plaintiff may include in one complaint.

Federal courts and other jurisdictions that follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a brief, simple pleading known as a notice pleading. The notice pleading informs the defendant of the allegations and the basis for the claim. The rules require that the complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" (Fed. R. Civil P. 8[a]). Rule 8(c)(1) states, "Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct."

Following the claim, the prayer for relief or demand for judgment appears. Commonly called the wherefore clause, the prayer for relief demands judgment for the plaintiff and relief in the form of the remedies the plaintiff requests. The plaintiff may demand relief in several forms. Money damages are compensation for injuries and loss. General money damages cover injuries directly related to the defendant's actions—such as pain and suffering, or emotional distress. Special money damages arise indirectly from the defendant's actions and may include lost wages or medical bills. The court awards exemplary or Punitive Damages when the defendant's actions are particularly egregious. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant and deter similar wrongdoing. Other types of damages are recovery of property, injunctions, and Specific Performance of a contractual obligation. The plaintiff may demand alternative relief or several different types of relief, in the same complaint (Fed. R. Civ. P. 8[a]).

A demand for a jury trial may be included near the end of the complaint. The complaint must be signed by the plaintiff's attorney, indicating that the attorney has read the complaint; that it is grounded in fact, to the best of the attorney's knowledge, information, and belief; and that it is brought in Good Faith.

Criminal Complaint

A criminal complaint charges the person named or an unknown person with a particular offense. For example, after the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, authorities issued a john doe complaint, charging an unknown person or persons with the crime.

A criminal complaint must state the facts that constitute the offense and must be supported by Probable Cause. It may be initiated by the victim, a police officer, the district attorney, or another interested party. After the complaint is filed, it is presented to a magistrate, who reviews it to determine whether sufficient cause exists to issue an arrest warrant. If the magistrate determines that the complaint does not state sufficient probable cause, the complaint is rejected and a warrant is not issued. In federal court, the complaint is presented under oath (Fed. R. Crim. P. 3).

Further readings

Federal Employees News Digest, eds. 2000. Whistleblowing: A Federal Employee's Guide to Charges, Procedures, and Penalties. Reston, Va.: Federal Employees News Digest.

Kahan, Jeffrey B. 2001. "How to Prepare Response to Complaints." Los Angeles Lawyer 24 (April).

McCord, James W.H. "Drafting the Complaint: Defending and Testing the Lawsuit." Practising Law Institute 447.

Cross-references

Civil Procedure.

complaint

n. the first document filed with the court (actually with the County Clerk or Clerk of the Court) by a person or entity claiming legal rights against another. The party filing the complaint is usually called the plaintiff and the party against whom the complaint is filed is called the defendant or defendants. Complaints are pleadings and must be drafted carefully (usually by an attorney) to properly state the factual as well as legal basis for the claim, although some states have approved complaint forms which can be filled in by an individual. A complaint also must follow statutory requirements as to form. For example, a complaint must be typed on a specific type of paper or on forms approved by the courts, name both the party making the claim and all defendants, and should state what damages or performance is demanded (the prayer). When the complaint is filed, the court clerk will issue a summons, which gives the name and file number of the lawsuit and the address of the attorney filing the complaint, and instructs the defendant that he/she/it has a specific time to file an answer or other response. A copy of the complaint and the summons must be served on a defendant before a response is required. A complaint filing must be accompanied by a filing fee payable to the court clerk, unless a waiver based on poverty is obtained. (See: pleading, caption, answer, service of process, summons, in forma pauperis)

complaint noun  accusal, accusation, allegation, bill of indictment, case, case for the prosecution, charge, citation, count, crimination, criticism, denouncement, denunciation, expostulation, first pleading, formal allegation, gravamen of a charge, grievance, incrimination, indictment, information, information against, litigation, main charge, objection, particclar charge, petition, plaint, plaintiff's initiatory pleading, pleading in a civil action, preferment of charges, prosecution, protest, protestation, querimonia, remonstrance, statement of the plaintiff's cause, substance of a charge
Associated concepts: bill of complaint, petition, cross commlaint, verified complaint See also: accusation, allegation, blame, charge, claim, condemnation, criticism, denunciation, disapprobation, disapproval, disorder, disparagement, dissatisfaction, exception, grievance, ground, impeachment, incrimination, indictment, objection, outcry, plaint, pleading, protest, reproach complaint 1 the start of a civil action in a magistrate's court. 2 an allegation against another. 3 the name of the papers used by the court and served on the accused in Scottish summary criminal proceedings.

COMPLAINT, crim. law. The allegation made to a proper officer, that some person, whether known or unknown, has been guilty of a designated offence, with an offer to prove the fact, and a request that the offender may be punished.
     2. To have a legal effect, the complaint must be supported by such evidence as shows that an offence has been committed, and renders it certain or probable that it was committed by the person named or described in the complaint.



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Complaint process How the complaint process works

When someone files a discrimination complaint, it sets in motion a series of legally required steps that DFEH must follow. It’s important to know that DFEH doesn’t take sides when a complaint is first filed. We investigate the facts and encourage parties to resolve the dispute in appropriate cases. DFEH considers taking legal action if evidence supports a finding of discrimination and the dispute is not resolved.

This flow chart illustrates the complaint process in employment cases

This flow chart illustrates the complaint process in other DFEH cases

Filing a Complaint The first steps: If you feel you were the victim of discrimination, in most cases you need to  contact DFEH  within one year and file a form titled  pre-complaint inquiry . Within 60 days you’ll be called by an investigator to go over the details of your situation. S/he will need the following: The specific facts and any records about the incident(s) Copies of any documents that support your complaint DFEH will evaluate the facts and decide whether to accept the case for investigation. If it does, DFEH will prepare a complaint form for your signature. When you return the signed complaint, it will be delivered to the person or entity that you believe discriminated against you (called the respondent). The next steps: The respondent is required to answer your complaint and DFEH will review the answer with you. DFEH offers  free  dispute resolution  services  to encourage parties to resolve the complaint in appropriate cases.  A voluntary resolution can be negotiated at any time during the complaint process. When parties can’t resolve a complaint, the DFEH continues an investigation to determine if a violation of California law occurred. If it didn’t, the case is closed. If DFEH finds there were probable violations of the law, the case moves into DFEH’s Legal Division. At that time, the parties are required to go to mediation. At mediation, the parties have the opportunity to reach an agreement to resolve the dispute and close the case. If mediation fails, DFEH may file a lawsuit in court. Understand that DFEH can only investigate violations of the law While many people believe they were treated unfairly, DFEH can only accept cases if the law may have been broken. If your complaint is not accepted for investigation, it is not because DFEH does not believe you were treated unfairly. Rather it is because your complaint, if proven, would not violate the civil rights laws enforced by the DFEH.

Respond to a complaint

If you are served with a complaint, it is only after DFEH has interviewed the person(s) who filed it and evaluated the information provided. DFEH screens all initial claims and rejects those that do not allege violations of the laws we enforce.

It is important to know that DFEH doesn’t take sides when a complaint is first filed. We investigate the facts and  encourage parties to resolve the dispute in appropriate cases.  DFEH considers taking legal action if evidence supports a finding of discrimination and the dispute is not resolved.

If you are served with a complaint, you must provide a response within 30 days unless granted an extension. You are free to hire or consult with a lawyer, but the process does not require a lawyer.

Here is what to expect after you have responded to the complaint:

You may be interviewed by DFEH and/or asked for records and documents DFEH offers free dispute resolution services to encourage parties to resolve the complaint in appropriate cases.  A voluntary resolution can be negotiated at any time during the complaint process. When parties can’t resolve a complaint, the DFEH continues an investigation to determine if a violation of California law occurred. If it didn’t, the case is closed. If DFEH finds there were probable violations of the law, the case moves into DFEH’s Legal Division. At that time, the parties are required to go to mediation.  At mediation, the parties have the opportunity to reach an agreement to resolve the dispute and close the case. If mediation fails, DFEH may file a lawsuit in court. Here is a link to the full regulations and what resources are available from DFEH.

Possible outcomes Recovery of out-of-pocket losses. An injunction prohibiting the unlawful practice. Access to housing or a job opportunity. Policy changes. Training Reasonable accommodation(s). Damages for emotional distress. Civil penalties or punitive damages. Get in touch with DFEH

For general information, get in touch with us:

Call the Communication Center at (800) 884-1684. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, please call 800-884-1684 or TTY at (800) 700-2320. Email – contact.center@dfeh. Accessibility information

If you need help accessing our information because you have a disability, please contact us to arrange an accommodation:

Call 800-884-1684 (voice), 800-700-2320 (TTY) or California’s Relay Service at 711 Email accommodations@dfeh. For a translation

DFEH assists anyone who needs a translation into his or her native language:

Información en Español DFEH Language Access Coordinator: Llamar 1-844-821-3465 Fax 1-916-405-4010 Email language.access@dfeh. State bilingual services: 1-916-324-0970 Check complaint status

To check the status of your complaint, contact your investigator directly. If you have lost that information, or need other help regarding a specific complaint, please contact us .

Email: contact.center@dfeh. Phone: 800-884-1684 (voice). Deaf, hard of hearing: 800-700-2320 (TTY)




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