The Answer to a Complaint is the document that will identify the legal issues that need to be litigated at trial. The allegations in a complaint are based on a reasonable interpretation of the facts and law but are not based on evidence yet. When an Answer is drafted, each allegation should either be admitted or denied, or presented as a statement that the defendant neither admits nor denies because there are insufficient facts to admit or deny. This will set the tone for discovery, investigation and issues that identify the heart of the controversy. This is also where the defendant can raise affirmative defenses to the claim that, if proven, will negate portions or in some cases, all of the claims made by the plaintiff.
The basic questions that you should be able to answer at this stage are:
- What are the main characteristics of an affirmative defense?
- How does it differ from a Complaint that does not have all elements met?
Week 2 Tasks
Refer to the project scenario given in Week 2 Midweek Assignment.
Harper is turning out to be an active client. He is impatient to see the answer of the defendant, O’Fay, to your defamation complaint. He asks you to draft a sample answer to his complaint so he can be prepared for the actual response. Your supervising attorney directs you to draft a sample answer as can be expected from O’Fay’s counsel and based on the facts of the case and applicable legal standards.