A pleading is the initial narrative of the claim that is filed with the court. The person filing the pleading is the plaintiff and the pleading is the plaintiff's original petition. The person being sued is the defendant.

There is no universal form for pleadings, but all pleadings must include:

  • the name of the plaintiff and where he resides;
  • the name of the defendant and where she resides;
  • a statement setting out the law or laws upon which the claim is based;
  • a statement of facts explaining how the claim arose; and
  • a request for relief in the form of money, performance or both.

TIP: Federal courts have strict rules concerning the form of pleadings and many states courts have created local rules setting out the form preferred. Do not file a pleading without knowing these rules.

Sidebar: Pleadings based on money owed on account, such as past due payments to an appliance store, must be verified. The person claiming that money is owed must swear to the truth and sign before a notary public that the amount specified in the pleading is accurate.

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