Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

How do I draft a complaint?

Helping my brother out with something. i've never drafted be loser1203/09/17
Well, I know all of the applicable laws, the requisite detai loser1203/11/17
Breach of contract and tort are two separate things. karlfarbman03/13/17
Type of complaint? mnjd03/09/17
As a general matter, you have to allege facts that satisfy t specv31303/09/17
If you don't know how to draft a complaint, be aware that on jeffm03/09/17
^^ This. The Complaint is the easiest part of the case. I mrtor03/10/17
What kind of case are you handling and which Court are you i isthisit03/09/17
New jersey has pro se forms for lots of common things: ht sjlawyer03/09/17
What will filing a complaint accomplish for you, if you don' guyingorillasuit03/10/17
Well, I know all of the applicable laws, the requisite detai loser1203/11/17
important question: Are you admitted in NJ? If not, are dingbat03/10/17
I know how to draft a complaint in terms of rules, the level loser1203/11/17
Copy the format from the judiciary's pro se section. isthisit03/11/17
have you never heard of google? It took me literally 3 seco dingbat03/12/17
Obviously, you need a complaint in a similar case that has a wolfman03/11/17
If I didn't know better, I'd say this post was a commentary jefferson03/11/17
almost. you can teach a man to fish, but you can't drag him dingbat03/12/17
loser12 (Mar 9, 2017 - 5:30 pm)

Helping my brother out with something. i've never drafted before, but i'm a quick teach and I want to learn the process. I'll tell him to hire an attorney if I think it will benefit him, but want to try to figure this out on my own.

Is there a template or example anyone would point to? State is NJ (unsure if that matters for the substance of the complaint). Thanks.

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loser12 (Mar 11, 2017 - 6:01 pm)

Well, I know all of the applicable laws, the requisite detail to include, the claims to make and how to substantiate each claim. I've also taken depositions and argued in court. I just don't have that paralegal like language, because you don't get exposure that in school or working at a decent firm because it's a waste of the client's money to pay associate fees for low level work.

I'm not being pretentious - it's just that the only complaints I've been involved with have consisted of me producing the content, and a paralegal dotting the i's and crossing the t's. I don't work in that kind of firm anymore so don't have anyone to ask, and I also want to know because I anticipate my family having a number of legal problems within the next decade - not that my family is shady, but there are health and insurance issues likely to arise that require legal assistance and they don't have the money to hire an attorney.

Plus, I'd generally like to have the ability to help my family should legal issues come up, because I'm the only one who'd do it for free and think I'm better than any lawyer they'd get because they don't have the funds to pay for a non-crackpot lawyer.

It's a contract tort claim related to the miles on a used car being fraudulent reduced, culminating in engine failure and a car accident caused by the car stalling in the middle of a highway. Fortunately, there are no major bodily injuries but there but a lawsuit against my brother who now has no car.

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karlfarbman (Mar 13, 2017 - 10:33 am)

Breach of contract and tort are two separate things.

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mnjd (Mar 9, 2017 - 5:44 pm)

Type of complaint?

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specv313 (Mar 9, 2017 - 5:55 pm)

As a general matter, you have to allege facts that satisfy the elements of whatever cause of action your suing for. So, breach of contract claim = allege the parties to the contract, relevant terms of the contract, how one party breached the contract, and the damage$ arising from that breach. Google for general examples of different claims. Assuming this isn't small-claims court, which tends to be more loosey-goosey given the number of pro se litigants, your jurisdiction will also have specific requirements that must be included in a complaint, i.e., certain types of notices that must be attached to the complaint; font, paragraphing, signature requirements, etc. Check your states rules of civil procedure. Again, Google if you don't have access to WestLaw/Lexis.

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jeffm (Mar 9, 2017 - 6:14 pm)

If you don't know how to draft a complaint, be aware that once you start the litigation timeline, you might get hit with having to do all sorts of things you don't know how to do, such as answer discovery, depositions, respond to a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, etc.

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mrtor (Mar 10, 2017 - 9:15 am)

^^ This.

The Complaint is the easiest part of the case. If you're struggling with that, you're in over your head and should not be initiating this litigation.

Your filing will start an entire chain of events you must be prepared for. The opposing party may hit you with a motion to dismiss and, if granted with prejudice, your brother's case could be over simply because you did not plead the cause of action properly. If you survive that, you will enter discovery. Your failure to appreciate what must be disclosed could expose you to sanctions or discipline. If that wasn't enough, a motion for summary judgment will likely follow discovery. Again, your inexperience could result in your brother losing his case.

If this is a long shot case with minimal damages, use it as a training experience. If, however, there is anything meaningful on the line, you have an ethical duty to refer it to a competent attorney.

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isthisit (Mar 9, 2017 - 6:24 pm)

What kind of case are you handling and which Court are you in?

Are you a new solo?

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sjlawyer (Mar 9, 2017 - 8:27 pm)

New jersey has pro se forms for lots of common things:

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/prose/index.html

Start there and figure out what you want. Small claims is for claims under 3K and has no discovery and very little (if at all) motion practice. Special Civil is up to 15K and has abbreviated discovery (paper) and very little motions. Service is done by the courts in those, IIRC.

Even if you want to write your own, you can use these as a starting point and an idea of what's needed to survive immediate dismissal.

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guyingorillasuit (Mar 10, 2017 - 1:01 am)

What will filing a complaint accomplish for you, if you don't know how to work the rest of the case?

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loser12 (Mar 11, 2017 - 5:58 pm)

Well, I know all of the applicable laws, the requisite detail to include, the claims to make and how to substantiate each claim. I've also taken depositions and argued in court. I just don't have that paralegal like language, because you don't get exposure that in school or working at a decent firm because it's a waste of the client's money to pay associate fees for low level work.

I'm not being pretentious - it's just that the only complaints I've been involved with have consisted of me producing the content, and a paralegal dotting the i's and crossing the t's. I don't work in that kind of firm anymore so don't have anyone to ask, and I also want to know because I anticipate my family having a number of legal problems within the next decade - not that my family is shady, but there are health and insurance issues likely to arise that require legal assistance and they don't have the money to hire an attorney.

Plus, I'd generally like to have the ability to help my family should legal issues come up, because I'm the only one who'd do it for free and think I'm better than any lawyer they'd get because they don't have the funds to pay for a non-crackpot lawyer.

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dingbat (Mar 10, 2017 - 9:21 am)

important question:

Are you admitted in NJ? If not, are you admitted elsewhere, in law school and/or waiting to be admitted, applying to law school, or plan to apply to law school in the future?

Will you be involved with the case in any way shape or form other than helping your brother with some drafting?

If you're not admitted, in NJ but intend to practice law at some point in the future, do not get involved beyond a little help with wording, due to unauthorized practice of law issues

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loser12 (Mar 11, 2017 - 2:38 pm)

I know how to draft a complaint in terms of rules, the level of detail, etc. I know all that.

I am admitted. I'm just asking if there's a template like there is with a brief - something where it's preformatted.

I'm asking if there's a template like there is for a brief/memorandum. Basically something where the paper pushing material is already in. Not asking how to write one legally, just a basic formatting q. Thanks.

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isthisit (Mar 11, 2017 - 3:19 pm)

Copy the format from the judiciary's pro se section.

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dingbat (Mar 12, 2017 - 11:00 am)

have you never heard of google? It took me literally 3 seconds to find several Complaints, which you can then modify to suit your needs

edit: time for some tough love.
your name is apt, you are a complete loser. I feel sorry for anyone who relies on you for counsel. Please don't take this the wrong way, but, if you're not capable of even attempting a simple google search, you are currently of no use to anyone. This is something that a 3-year-old can be taught, and so can you. Change your ways. stop being a loser. It's not too late.

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wolfman (Mar 11, 2017 - 8:25 pm)

Obviously, you need a complaint in a similar case that has already been filed. Can a friend from your old firm send you one? Also, try to find similar complaints on your state's equivalent of PACER. Bbw, as a paralegal (albeit one with a JD) I LOL at attorneys not being able to do things like that; in my mind, you should be able to do whatever a lower-level person does, and better, on your own; not that you should actually be doing it, which as OP points out doesn't make financial sense, but you should know how. That aside, find a complaint that has been filed with the court and plagiarize.

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jefferson (Mar 11, 2017 - 8:46 pm)

If I didn't know better, I'd say this post was a commentary on law schools and legal education?

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dingbat (Mar 12, 2017 - 11:04 am)

almost. you can teach a man to fish, but you can't drag him to the river and force him to cast a line. This post isn't showing ineptitude so much as it's showing sheer laziness.

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