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Do I cite criminal statutes in a tort lawsuit? OR is that a mistake?

Seattle, WA |

I am suing someone for an Intentional and Negligent Tort. The prongs for each of these claims have been met. When I file here in Washington State, must I submit my complaint with Points and Authorities? The person in question abandoned my daughter, sent threatening communications, commit blackmail, extortion, and other offenses while I was facing a high risk pregnancy. I suffer PTSD and see a doctor once a week. I must take medication to curb the nightmares. Statute of Limitations has not expired.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    A tort complaint in Washington state does not require citation to legal authority. The complaint must contain facts that give rise to a legal cause of action. Thus, leave out citation to legal authority. Below is a general outline to follow:
    Parties. Here in separate paragraphs for each party identify the parties.
    Jurisdiction. Set forth basis for jurisdiction. For a tort in Washington this means the tort ocurred in Washington.
    Facts. Separate paragraphs discussing what happened. Try to stay with one event in each paragraph. Make sure the facts translate to the elements of the tort you allege. Include the damages suffered but do not put an amount rather state what they are i.e. pain and suffering.
    Prayer for Relief. Conclude with what you want. Judgment against defendant for i.e. special damages for past, present and future medical bills, general damages for pain and suffering, other relief court deems just and equitable.

  2. It is more important that your complaint alleges a factual basis which would meet the requirements of proving the tort being alleged so as to plead a "prima facie" case, rather that citing the statute reference itself, particularly a criminal statute. Furthermore, even though there are many acts that would constitute a criminal conduct as well as a civil tort, the definitions can technically be different, even subtly so. It sounds as if you are looking to act "Pro Se", meaning by yourself and for yourself. A proper pleading is crucial because if done incorrectly, it could lead to a dismissal of your case. You should consult a personal injury attorney in you area; such consults are free and if an attorney is willing to take on your case it will likely be done on a contingcy fee basis - meaning you do not pay for his/her time and efforts unless you are successful in obtaining compensation by settlement or verdict.

  3. Notice pleading requires that you make a short and plain pleading of the facts sufficient to place the defendant on notice of what they are being sued for. What I do is outline the elements of the various causes of action, then ensure that I have specific, and general, citations to facts that can establish each element. Citing statutes is unecessary, but can be helpful to the notice pleading requirement. If you are suing for a civil tort, leave citations to criminal statutes out, unless the defendant was convicted for a crime that establishes some or all of the elements of the tort. If you are suing someone for an intentional tort, remember that there will be no insurance, because insurance never covers intentional acts, so you'd better hope the defendant is rich.

    All responses are intended to be informative legal information only. No response consitutes legal advice. There is no attorney/client relationship, unless a signed contract between the parties is executed.

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