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Last updated March 14, 2009

Defending Agianst The Complaint

Before you begin defending against the complaint, there are certain things you want to do in the way of setting up your computer, files to get, and forms you'll need. Set-up as though you were filing the complaint but you will not need the forms for waiver of service, civil cover sheet and you will not have to pay the clerk to file anything.

After you've sobered up from reading the complaint, you need to plan your defense. We learned from the M&M/Mars lawsuit that you keep looking and looking for anything you can. What appears to be a long shot can sometimes be the game winner.

When a defendant is served with a complaint, there are three categories of options:
1. Answer the complaint and respond to each and every one of the allegations made, either admitting or denying each allegation. 2. Counter with affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense might trump the plaintiff's allegation (e.g. failure to have a registered copyright, statute of limitations, etc). 3. File a motion challenging on procedural grounds. Motions can appear in an answer. An F.R.C.P. 12(c) motion is for a judgment on the pleadings, etc.

One of the first things you do is read the paragraph citing specifically how the court has jurisdiction to hear the case. Look for a way to challange it if you can. For example, most states do not regard the typical online auctions to be enough to establish personal jurisdiction. If that is the basis of their jurisdictional claim, besides federal issues, then file an F.R.C.P. 12(b)(2) Motion

Don't worry about their historical background of events and parties. Unless something is defamatory just make a neutral response. It's there to justify the complaint and isn't proof of anything.

You must include a step-by-step denial for every cause of action. Admit nothing except a fact, like your name. Deny everything else. No not make a general denial. Deny each one in a numbered response.

You must also consider if you are going to seek counter damages. Damages vary from state to state. It is unlikely you will get much in federal damages representing yourself. Few litigants do get damages even with a lawyer except for copyright infringements if you are the owner of the copyright.

In your conclusion, you make your "prayer" for relief and/or damages. The court does not assume what relief you want. You MUST state to the court what you want or you will not get it. Seek a denial of all of their claims, etc and ask for all of your claims to be granted.

Your must serve every filing upon your opponent or his/her lawyer. If there is more than one plaintiff, all must be served unless they share attornerys.

Mail your answer with signature confirmation to the court and your opponet. File your copy in a binder and mail the other copies to your opponents. Go on-line and look up the judge's rules. If the judge has rules, download them onto your computer and learn which may apply to you.

Now you sit back and wait.

Steps For Defending Against The Complaint

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