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What are the advantages/disadvantages of laying out a complete story in the pleadings?

Pasadena, CA |

Some attorney feel it's best to hold a few cards, but if there is an issue with a demurrer, laying it all out in the pleadings may useful. I'm of two minds about what to do on this case.

To add a bit more, there is a timeline which needs to be established and specific facts. The facts tell a tale of multiple causes of action with the involvement of several defendants, so I'm concerned about being too sparse.

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Attorney answers 3


Actually, the answer depends upon what your causes of action are. To overcome a demurrer, you only have to allege sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action. Nothing more.

The disadvantage of putting in too many specific facts is that you will be "stuck" with that story from now until trial, even if the complaint is not a verified complaint.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.



Actually the complaint would be verified and there is no problem with getting "stuck" when it is the truth. But it could be a problem, you are right.

Hillary Johns

Hillary Johns


I wouldn't showcase your entire case this early on in your case. There could be additional facts which are discovered. It's more important to have a consistent theory of the case and real causes of action. As Mr. Chen stated, the demurrer stage is not the place to try your case.



Unfortunately with so many causes of action in this case, it was important to lay it all out in the pleadings. Yes, other things might be discovered, but stating multiple causes of action against multiple parties takes alot of ink.


To have a sufficient pleading (complaint, cross complaint, answer to complaint), you need to allege facts sufficient to state a cause of action. You do not describe what sort of case you intend to plead, so we cannot give you more specifics for your particular case. However, if the defendant's attorney feels that your pleading omits key facts, he or she may file a demurrer to the complaint or move for judgment on the pleadings. It is then up to the court to decide, based on your opposition and any reply brief and oral argument of the motion. The pleader can then amend to add the omitted facts, if the demurrer or motion is granted.

The downside to pleading too many facts is that you express something that may constitute a defense to the complaint, in which case the attorney could file a demurrer to the complaint or move for judgment on the pleadings. The risk to leaving out facts that are part of your case is that you may reveal it at some point later, in which case that fact can be used to get summary judgment or a judgment at trial. Perhaps it is better to get those facts out earlier. The old sooner rather than later concept, if you are looking to keep the case economical and willing to accept losing, if your case is weak. The Cal. Judicial Council has form pleadings which may make it easier to plead the minimum facts needed for standard type cases. See link, below.

Robert Stempler (please see DISCLAIMER below)
Twitter: @RStempler

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A demurrer has nothing to do with facts, only the legal sufficiency of the allegations. Another way of phrasing "I demeur" is "Even if everything you say is true, so what? I win as a matter of law." Pleading too many facts rarely has any advantages.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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