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Last updated March 22, 2009

Denials

There are five kinds of denials in federal court:

a. General: The defendant may make a "general" denial, by which he/she denies each and every allegation in your complaint. But the defend must then contest all of your allegations, or face possible sanctions.

FRCP 8(b) Denials shall fairly meet the substance of averments denied. When pleader intends in good faith to deny only a part or a qualification of an averment, he shall specify so much of it as true and shall deny only the remainder.

b. Specific: Defendant may make a "specific" denial, which he/she denies all of the allegations of a particular paragraph or count of the complaint.

c. Qualified: Defendant may make a "qualified" denial, i.e., a denial of a particular portion of a particular allegation.

d. Knowledge or information: Defendant may make a denial of knowledge or information (DKI), by which he says that he/she does not have enough knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of your complaint. You will see a lot of this denial as well as the next denial.

e. Information and belief: Defendant may deny "based on information and belief." By this, Defendant effectively says, "I don't know for sure, but I reasonably believe that your allegation is false." Corporate lawyers just love the hell out of this one.

White v. Smith -- DC WDNY 1981: Plaintiff's claims were plainly and cogently presented to show with detail specific description of events with names, dates, and documents. Defendant should have taken a look at records and compare with allegations to make meaningful answers to charges. A wholly inadequate response and not in good faith. Stretches credibility to say "to best of knowledge" on all allegations.

We are not lawyers nor have we received any significant assistance from any lawyers beyond our appeal to the Tenth District, which we won. The information presented here is based upon our experiences in federal court defending and prosecuting claims of trademark infringement and copyright infringement. It is presented to prepare you for what lies ahead should you end up in court. This outline is for those sellers who are thinking about representing themselves, pro se, in a court action. A business cannot represent themselves in federal court but individuals and unincorporated business can. The court rules and the federal rules are written by lawyers for lawyers. We try to put them into plain English here. These pages are not a complete analysis of everything that can happen. These are intended a guide and starting point. Always consult competent legal help.

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