Basic Guide to Answering a Civil Complaint in Arizona

Posted over 4 years ago. Applies to Arizona, 5 helpful votes

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Disclaimer

This guide only provides general advice on some phrases that lawyers often use when answering a complaint. It also refers to the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. Please read the most current version of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure before answering a complaint. I strongly recommend that you consult with a lawyer before attempting to answer a complaint, as you may lose some defenses or weaken your position by improperly answering a complaint. I am not your attorney. The only method of establishing an attorney-client relationship with me is by a retainer and fee agreement signed by me, which is not offered via this website. The information given in this guide is not legal advice and is for general information only. This guide may not be complete or applicable to your situation. This guide is given upon the condition that you will contact an attorney licensed in Arizona to receive legal advice that applies to your particular situation.

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General Pointers

A. General pointers. Complaints should be formatted with numbered paragraphs. Answers should also be formatted with numbered paragraphs. You must truthfully answer every paragraph in the complaint. B. Filing fee. To file an answer, you must pay a fee at the same time you file the answer. Call the court before you go to ensure that you have enough cash or a the correct amount on your money order or check. C. State the parties' names. Begin your answer by stating the names of the parties. For example: Defendant John Smith ("Smith") for his Answer to the Complaint filed by Plaintiff Rebecca Rolfe ("Rolfe") admits denies and alleges as follows: D. Optional: If you wish, you may begin by generally denying everything before you specifically answer any paragraph. For example: 1. Smith denies each allegation of Rolfe's Complaint, which is not specifically admitted or otherwise addressed below.

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Identify and Admit or Deny

D. Optional: If you wish, you may begin by generally denying everything before you specifically answer any paragraph. For example: 1. Smith denies each allegation of Rolfe's Complaint, which is not specifically admitted or otherwise addressed below. E. Identify the paragraph you are answering. For example: 2. Answering the allegations of Paragraph 1, Smith.... To admit all the allegations in a paragraph, restate or rephrase the paragraph in the Complaint. For example: 3. Smith admits the allegations of Paragraph 2. To deny all the allegations in a paragraph, simply deny them. For example: 4. Smith denies the allegations of Paragraph 3.

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Other Answers

H. Admitting part of the allegations in a paragraph. To admit only some of the allegations in a paragraph, restate or rephrase the part the agree with and deny the remaining portions. 5. Answering the allegations of Paragraph 4, Smith admits that he fell in love with Rolfe when he first saw her but denies the remaining allegations. If it is a long paragraph, you can simply state what happened and then put in a general denial at the end of your paragraph. For example: 6. Answering the allegations of Paragraph 5, Smith admits that [your version of the story] .... Smith denies any remaining allegations in Paragraph 5. I. Answering a paragraph if you do not know the answer. If you do not have enough information for to answer a paragraph, say so. However, you should attempt to find out the information before you prepare your answer. An example: 7. Smith has insufficient information to form a belief as to the veracity of allegations contained in Paragraph 6 and therefore

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I Don't Know or You Didn't Really Say Anything

J. Answering a paragraph without allegations. If a paragraph does not actually have an allegation, one way to answer is as follows: 8. The allegations of Paragraph 7 do not call for a response from Smith. If one is required, Smith denies any allegation of fact contained in Paragraph 7.

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Affirmative Defenses

If you do not allege certain legal defenses in your answer, you lose the opportunity to raise them later in your case. Some of these may be found in Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure 4, 8, 12 and 19. Explaining them is beyond the scope of this guide. To properly understand them and whether you may raise them, you should consult with an attorney. After you finish answering every paragraph of the complaint, put on a line by itself the following text: AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES Then, you can say: 9. Smith alleges the following affirmative defenses: After you have detailed the affirmative defenses, some attorneys often put a catch-all paragraph in. Note that this may not be enough to "preserve" the affirmative defenses. For example: 10. Discovery may reveal the existence and applicability of additional, affirmative defenses. For the specific purpose of not waiving any defenses that may be revealed or clarified through further discovery, Smith preserves the affirmative defe

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Prayer for Relief

After you finish stating your affirmative defenses, an answer typically asks the court to grant you relief. For example: WHEREFORE, Defendant Smith requests that the Court: A. Deny the relief sought by Plaintiff Rolfe and Dismiss her Complaint entirely. B. Grant judgment to Defendant Smith for his attorneys' fees and costs incurred herein, pursuant to [cite the applicable statute]. C. For such other and further relief as the Court determines just and proper.

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Counterclaims

The Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure require you to raise certain claims in your answer, or you will lose them. These are called mandatory counterclaims. Other claims can be brought as a separate lawsuit. See Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 13. The counterclaim is just like a complaint, but it is by a defendant against a plaintiff. Some attorneys often begin their counterclaim with the following paragraph to save them from having to restate everything that was already stated: 11. Smith incorporates Paragraphs 1 though 10. How to draft a complaint is beyond the scope of this guide. Again, you should consult with an attorney.

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Mandatory Arbitration, Forms, and Parting Advice

The Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure require that certain cases be sent to mandatory arbitration. Read Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure 72 to 77. You are required to file a certificate stating whether the matter is subject to mandatory arbitration. FORMS. Check with the law library in your county for books that have forms for civil litigation in Arizona. You can also look at other civil litigation files at the Superior Court for examples. PARTING ADVICE. Again, I highly recommend you consult with a lawyer before filing an answer, even if you plan to represent yourself. A consultation usually only costs about $200 to $400 and could help you avoid a ruling against you.

Additional Resources

http://government.westlaw.com/linkedslice/default.asp?SP=AZR-1000

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