April 29, 2014
Several students asked about answering the complaint.
After receiving the complaint a defendant in the United States will usually either (i) move to dismiss the complaint (or a specific claim in the complaint) or (ii) answer the complaint.
For now, let's focus on the Answer. When the defendant answers he admits or denies each of the allegations in the complaint. If he doesn't have sufficient information to know whether an allegation is true or not he will state that he does not know (deny knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief). Each of the paragraphs and allegations in the complaint will be answered by the defendant.
For example, if a plaintiff alleges in paragraph 5 of the complaint that the defendant lied to the plaintiff, we would expect the defendant to deny the allegation. All the defendant has to do is write something like, "Defendant denies the allegations in paragraph 5." Let's say in paragraph 6 the plaintiff writes, "The defendant met with the plaintiff on January 10." Well, the defendant might want to admit that allegation is true so he can simply write, "Defendant admits the allegations of paragraph 6." And let's say the plaintiff alleges in paragraph 7, "The plaintiff was nervous on the day of the meeting." The defendant might choose to answer, "The defendant denies knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to whether the plaintiff was nervous." As in other aspects of civil litigation, you can probably guess that there is a good deal of strategy involved in answering a complaint.
The defendant will typically not submit proof or evidence in his Answer. That comes later. In addition to his Answer, the defendant can also raise affirmative defenses and counterclaims but I'll discuss that seperately.
Here is a link to a video I recently posted on the Answer to a Complaint.