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Rhode Island District Court
Civil Rules of Procedure

III. PLEADINGS AND MOTIONS

Index:

  1. PLEADINGS AND MOTIONS
    1. RULE 7. PLEADINGS ALLOWED--FORM OF MOTIONS
      1. Pleadings.
      2. Motions and Other Papers.
      3. Demurrers, Pleas, etc., Abolished.
      RULE 8. GENERAL RULES OF PLEADING
      1. Claims for Relief.
      2. Defenses; Form of Denials.
      3. Affirmative Defenses.
      4. Effect of Failure to Deny.
      5. Pleading to Be Concise and Direct; Consistency.
        1. Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct.
        2. A party may set forth two (2) or more statements of a claim or defense
      6. Construction of Pleadings.
      RULE 9. PLEADING SPECIAL MATTERS
      1. Capacity.
      2. Fraud, Mistake, Condition of the Mind.
      3. Conditions Precedent.
      4. Official Document or Act.
      5. Judgment.
      6. Time and Place.
      7. Special Damage.
      RULE 10. FORM OF PLEADINGS
      1. Caption; Names of Parties.
      2. Paragraphs; Separate Statements.
      3. Adoption by Reference; Exhibits.
      RULE 11. SIGNING OF PLEADINGS
      RULE 12. DEFENSES AND OBJECTIONS--WHEN AND HOW PRESENTED--BY PLEADING OR MOTION--MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON PLEADINGS
      1. When Presented.
      2. How Presented.
      3. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
      4. Preliminary Hearings.
      5. Motion for More Definite Statement
      6. Motion to Strike.
      7. Consolidation of Defenses
      8. Waiver of Defenses.
      RULE 13. COUNTERCLAIM AND CROSS-CLAIM
      1. [Reserved].
      2. Permissive Counterclaims.
      3. Counterclaim Exceeding Opposing Claim.
      4. [Reserved].
      5. Counterclaim Maturing or Acquired After Pleading.
      6. Omitted Counterclaim.
      7. Cross-Claim Against Co-party.
      8. Additional Parties May Be Brought in.
      9. Separate Trials; Separate Judgments.
      RULE 14. THIRD-PARTY PRACTICE
      1. When Defendant May Bring in Third Party.
      2. When Plaintiff May Bring in Third Party.
      3. Notice of Assignment.
      RULE 15. AMENDED AND SUPPLEMENTAL PLEADINGS
      1. Amendments.
      2. Amendments to Conform to the Evidence.
      3. Relation Back of Amendments.
      4. Supplemental Pleadings.
      RULE 16. PRE-TRIAL PROCEDURE--FORMULATING ISSUES


RULE 7. PLEADINGS ALLOWED--FORM OF MOTIONS

    1. (a) Pleadings. There shall be a complaint and an answer; a reply to a counterclaim shall be denominated as such; an answer to a cross-claim, if the answer contains a cross-claim; a third-party complaint, if a person who was not an original party is summoned under the provisions of Rule 14; and a third-party answer, if a third-party complaint is served. No other pleading shall be allowed, except that the court may order a reply to an answer or a third-party answer.
    2. (b) Motions and Other Papers.
      1. (1) An application to the court for an order shall be by motion which, unless made during a hearing or trial, shall be made in writing, shall state with particularity the grounds therefor, shall set forth the relief or order sought, and shall contain a signature line and other appropriate language so that the trial justice can indicate on the motion its disposition. The requirement of writing is fulfilled if the motion is stated in a written notice of the hearing of the motion.
      2. (2) The rules applicable to captions, signing, and other matters of form of pleadings apply to all motions and other papers provided for by these rules.
      3. (3) A motion to amend a pleading, a motion for leave to serve a third-party complaint, a motion for an order for a physical or mental examination, a motion to assign, a motion to consolidate cases for trial, a motion to compel answers to interrogatories, a motion to compel more responsive answers to interrogatories, a motion to charge a garnishee to the extent shown in the garnishee's affidavit, a motion to file a complaint out of time, a motion to enlarge time to file answers to interrogatories or a motion to compel production of documents, or pursuant to Rule 69 of these Rules, a motion to attach wages or a notice of a non-wage attachment, and the notice of hearing thereof shall be filed forthwith upon service. Such motions shall be deemed to be granted as a matter of course and shall not be placed upon the motion calendar unless objection thereto is served and filed at least two (2) days before the time specified for its hearing. A motion to assign shall indicate the calendar to which assignment is desired. A motion to compel answers to interrogatories and a motion to compel more responsive answers to interrogatories shall specify the number of days for compliance. A motion to charge a garnishee shall be served upon the garnishee and the opposing party. The provisions of Rule 6(d) shall not apply to this subdivision.
      4. (4) If an objection be filed to a motion referred to in Rule 7(b)(3) and the objecting party or objecting party's attorney does not appear to argue the objection, the court may award reasonable attorney's fees to the moving party unless, prior to the hearing date, the objecting party files and serves a stipulation withdrawing said objection.
    3. (c) Demurrers, Pleas, etc., Abolished. Demurrers, pleas, and exceptions for insufficiency of a pleading shall not be used.

RULE 8. GENERAL RULES OF PLEADING

    1. (a) Claims for Relief. A pleading which sets forth a claim for relief, whether an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, shall contain (1) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and (2) a demand for judgment for the relief to which he deems himself entitled. Relief in the alternative or of several different types may be demanded.
    2. (b) Defenses; Form of Denials. A party shall state in short and plain terms his or her defenses to each claim asserted and shall admit or deny the averments upon which the adverse party relies. If a party is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of an averment, the party shall so state and this has the effect of a denial. Denials shall fairly meet the substance of the averments denied. When a pleader intends in good faith to deny only a part or a qualification of an averment, the pleader shall specify so much of it as is true and material and shall deny only the remainder. Unless the pleader intends in good faith to controvert all the averments of the preceding pleading, the pleader may make his or her denials as specific denials of designated averments or paragraphs, or the pleader may generally deny all the averments except such designated averments or paragraphs as the pleader expressly admits; but, when the pleader does so intend to controvert all its averments, the pleader may do so by general denial subject to the obligations set forth in Rule 11. Denial of the authenticity or validity of a signature shall be by specific negative averment, and a general denial shall not put such signature in issue.
    3. (c) Affirmative Defenses. In pleading to a preceding pleading, a party shall set forth affirmatively accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, assumption of risk, discharge in bankruptcy, duress, estoppel, failure of consideration, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, payment, release, res judicata, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, waiver, and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense. When a party has mistakenly designated a defense as a counterclaim or a counterclaim as a defense, the court on terms, if justice so requires, shall treat the pleading as if there had been a proper designation.
    4. (d) Effect of Failure to Deny. Averments in a pleading to which a responsive pleading is required, other than those as to the amount of damages, are admitted when not denied in the responsive pleadings. Averments in a pleading to which no responsive pleading is required or permitted shall be taken as denied or avoided.
    5. (e) Pleading to Be Concise and Direct; Consistency.
      1. (1) Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct. No technical forms of pleading or motions are required.
      2. (2) A party may set forth two (2) or more statements of a claim or defense alternately or hypothetically, either in one (1) count or defense or in separate counts or defenses. When two (2) or more statements are made in the alternative and one (1) of them if made independently would be sufficient, the pleading is not made insufficient by the insufficiency of one or more of the alternative statements. A party may also state as many separate claims or defenses as the party has regardless of consistency and whether based on legal or equitable grounds or on both. All statements shall be made subject to the obligations set forth in Rule 11.
    6. (f) Construction of Pleadings. All pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice.

RULE 9. PLEADING SPECIAL MATTERS

    1. (a) Capacity. It is not necessary to aver the capacity of a party to sue or be sued in a representative capacity or the legal existence of an organized association of persons that is made a party. When a party desires to raise an issue as to the legal existence of any party or the capacity of any party to sue or be sued or the authority of a party to sue or be sued in a representative capacity, the party shall do so by specific negative averment, which shall include such supporting particulars as are peculiarly within the pleader's knowledge.
    2. (b) Fraud, Mistake, Condition of the Mind. In all averments of fraud or mistake, the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake shall be stated with particularity. Malice, intent, knowledge, and other conditions of mind of a person may be averred generally.
    3. (c) Conditions Precedent. In pleading the performance or occurrence of conditions precedent, it is sufficient to aver generally that all conditions precedent have been performed or have occurred. A denial of performance or occurrence shall be made specifically and with particularity.
    4. (d) Official Document or Act. In pleading an official document or official act it is sufficient to aver that the document was issued or the act done in compliance with law.
    5. (e) Judgment. In pleading a judgment or decision of a domestic or foreign court, judicial or quasi judicial tribunal, or of a board or officer, it is sufficient to aver the judgment or decision without setting forth matter showing jurisdiction to render it.
    6. (f) Time and Place. For the purpose of testing the sufficiency of a pleading, averments of time and place are material and shall be considered like all other averments of material matter.
    7. (g) Special Damage. When items of special damage are claimed, they shall be specifically stated.

RULE 10. FORM OF PLEADINGS

    1. (a) Caption; Names of Parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the division, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.
    2. (b) Paragraphs; Separate Statements. All averments of claim or defense shall be made in numbered paragraphs, the content of each of which shall be limited as far as practicable to statement of a single set of circumstances; and a paragraph may be referred to by number in all succeeding pleadings. Each claim founded upon a separate transaction or occurrence and each defense other than denials shall be stated in a separate count or defense whenever a separation facilitates the clear presentation of the matters set forth.
    3. (c) Adoption by Refere nce; Exhibits. Statements in a pleading may be adopted by reference in a different part of the same pleading or in another pleading or in any motion. A copy of any written instrument which is an exhibit to a pleading is a part thereof for all purposes.

RULE 11. SIGNING OF PLEADINGS

    Every pleading of a party represented by an attorney shall be personally signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's individual name and shall state the attorney's address and telephone number. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall personally sign his or her pleading and state his or her address. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. The rule in equity that the averments of an answer under oath must be overcome by the testimony of two (2) witnesses or of one (1) witness sustained by corroborating circumstances is abolished. The signature of an attorney constitutes a certificate by the attorney that he or she has read the pleading; that to the best of his or her knowledge, information and belief there is good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay. If a pleading is not signed or is signed with intent to defeat the purpose of this rule, it may be stricken as sham and false and the action may proceed as though the pleading had not been served. For a wilful violation of this rule an attorney may be subjected to appropriate disciplinary action. Similar action may be taken if scandalous or indecent matter is included.

RULE 12. DEFENSES AND OBJECTIONS--WHEN AND HOW PRESENTED-- BY PLEADING OR MOTION--MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON PLEADINGS

    1. (a) When Presented. A defendant shall serve his or her answer within twenty (20) days after the service of the summons and complaint upon the defendant, unless the court directs otherwise when service of process is made pursuant to an order of court. A party served with a pleading stating a cross-claim against the party shall serve an answer thereto within twenty (20) days after the service upon the party. The plaintiff shall serve his or her reply to a counterclaim in the answer within twenty (20) days after service of the answer or, if a reply is ordered by the court, within twenty (20) days after service of the order, unless the order otherwise directs. The service of a motion permitted under this rule alters these periods of time as follows, unless a different time is fixed by order of the court:
      1. (1) If the court denies the motion or postpones its disposition until the trial on the merits, the responsive pleading shall be served within ten (10) days after notice of the court's action.
      2. (2) If the court grants a motion for a more definite statement, the responsive pleading shall be served within ten (10) days after the service of the more definite statement.
    2. (b) How Presented. Every defense, in law or fact, to a claim for relief in any pleading, whether a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, shall be asserted in the responsive pleading thereto if one is required, except that the following defenses may at the option of the pleader be made by motion:
      1. (1) lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter,
      2. (2) lack of jurisdiction over the person,
      3. (3) improper venue,
      4. (4) insufficiency of process,
      5. (5) insufficiency of service of process,
      6. (6) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,
      7. (7) failure to join an indispensable party.
      A motion making any of these defenses shall be made before pleading if a further pleading is permitted. No defense or objection is waived by being joined with one or more other defenses or objections in a responsive pleading or motion. If a pleading sets forth a claim for relief to which the adverse party is not required to serve a responsive pleading, the adverse party may assert at the trial any defense in law or fact to that claim for relief. If, on a motion asserting the defense numbered (6) to dismiss for failure of the pleading to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, matters outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56. A motion or an answer presenting the defense of failure of a pleading to state a claim upon which relief can be granted shall be accompanied by a short concise statement of the grounds on which such defense is based.
    3. (c) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. After the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the trial, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings. If, on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56.
    4. (d) Preliminary Hearings. The defenses specifically enumerated (1) through (7) in subdivision (b) of this rule, whether made in a pleading or by motion, and the motion for judgment mentioned in subdivision (c) of this rule shall be heard and determined before the trial on application of any party, unless the court orders that the hearing and determination thereof be deferred until the trial.
    5. (e) Motion for More Definite Statement. If a pleading to which a responsive pleading is permitted is so vague or ambiguous tha t a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading, the party may move for a more definite statement before interposing his or her responsive pleading. The motion shall point out the defects complained of and the details desired. If the motion is granted and the order of the court is not obeyed within ten (10) days after notice of the order or within such other time as the court may fix, the court may strike the pleading to which the motion was directed or make such order as it deems just.
    6. (f) Motion to Strike. Upon motion made by a party before responding to a pleading or, if no responsive pleading is permitted by these rules, upon motion made by a party within twenty (20) days after the service of the pleading upon him or her or upon the court's own initiative at any time, the court may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense, or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.
    7. (g) Consolidation of Defenses. A party who makes a motion under this rule may join with it the other motions herein provided for and then available to the party. If a party makes a motion under this rule and does not include therein all defenses and objections then available to the party which this rule permits to be raised by motion, the party shall not thereafter make a motion based on any of the defenses or objections so omitted, except as provided in subdivision (h) of this rule.
    8. (h) Waiver of Defenses. A party waives all defenses and objections which the party does not present either by motion as hereinbefore provided or, if the party has made no motion, in the party's answer or reply, except (1) that the defense of failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the defense of failure to join an indispensable party, and the objection of failure to state a legal defense to a claim may also be made by a later pleading, if one is permitted, or by motion for judgment on the pleadings or at the trial on the merits, and except (2) that, whenever it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action. The objection or defense, if made at the trial, shall be disposed of as provided in Rule 15(b) in the light of any evidence that may have been received.

RULE 13. COUNTERCLAIM AND CROSS-CLAIM

    1. (a) [Reserved].
    2. (b) Permissive Counterclaims. A pleading may state as a counterclaim any claim against an opposing party.
    3. (c) Counterclaim Exceeding Opposing Claim. A counterclaim may or may not diminish or defeat the recovery sought by the opposing party. It may claim relief exceeding in amount or different in kind from that sought in the pleading of the opposing party.
    4. (d) [Reserved].
    5. (e) Counterclaim Maturing or Acquired After Pleading. A claim which either matured or was acquired by the pleader after serving his pleading may, with the permission of the court, be presented as a counterclaim by supplemental pleading.
    6. (f) Omitted Counterclaim. When a pleader fails to set up a counterclaim through oversight, inadvertence, or excusable neglect, or when justice requires, he may by leave of court set up the counterclaim by amendment.
    7. (g) Cross-Claim Against Co-party. A pleading may state as a cross-claim any claim by one party against a co-party arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter either of the original action or of a counterclaim therein or relating to any property that is the subject matter of the original action. Such cross-claim may include a claim that the party against whom it is asserted is or may be liable to the cross-claimant for all or part of a claim asserted in the action against the cross-claimant.
    8. (h) Additional Parties May Be Brought in. When the presence of parties other than those to the original action is required for the granting of complete relief in the determination of a counterclaim or crossclaim, the court shall order them to be brought in as defendants as provided in these rules.
    9. (i) Separate Trials; Separate Judgments. If the court orders separate trials as provided in Rule 42(b), judgment on a counterclaim or crossclaim may be rendered in accordance with the terms of Rule 54(b) even if the claims of the opposing party have been dismissed or otherwise disposed of.

RULE 14. THIRD-PARTY PRACTICE

    1. (a) When Defendant May Bring in Third Party. At any time after commencement of the action a defendant, as a third-party plaintiff, may cause a summons and complaint to be served upon a person not a party to the action who is or may be liable to the defendant for all or part of the plaintiff's claim against the defendant. The third-party plaintiff need not obtain leave to make the service if the third-party plaintiff files the third-party complaint not later than ten (10) days after the third-party plaintiff serves his or her original answer. Otherwise the third-party plaintiff must obtain leave on motion upon notice to all parties to the action. The person served with the summons and third-party complaint, hereinafter called the third-party defendant, shall make his or her defenses to the third-party plaintiff's claim as provided in Rule 12 and his or her counterclaims against the third-party plaintiff and cross-claims against other third-party defendants as provided in Rule 13. The third-party defendant may assert against the plaintiff any defenses which the third-party plaintiff has to the plaintiff's claim. The third-party defendant may also assert any claim against the plaintiff arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff. The plaintiff may assert any claim against the third-party defendant arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff, and the third-party defendant shall assert his or her defenses as provided in Rule 12 and his or her counterclaims and cross-claims as provided in Rule 13. Any party may move to strike the third-party claim, or for its severance or separate trial. A third-party defendant may proceed under this rule against any person not a party to the action who is or may be liable to him or her for all or part of the claim made in the action against the third-party defendant.
    2. (b) When Plaintiff May Bring in Third Party. When a counterclaim is asserted against a plaintiff, the plaintiff may cause a third party to be brought in under circumstances which under this rule would entitle a defendant to do so.
    3. (c) Notice of Assignment. At the time of service of the third-party complaint, notice shall be given to the third-party defendant as to whether the case is assigned for trial and if so to what date and calendar.

RULE 15. AMENDED AND SUPPLEMENTAL PLEADINGS

    1. (a) Amendments. A party may amend his or her pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, if the pleading is one to which no responsive pleading is permitted and the action has not been placed upon the trial calendar, the party may so amend it at any time within twenty (20) days after it is served. Otherwise a party may amend his or her pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires. Amendments shall be embodied in a fair copy of the whole paper as amended, which shall be substituted for the original unless otherwise ordered by the court. A party shall plead in response to an amended pleading within the time remaining for response to the original pleading or within ten (10) days after service of the amended pleading, whichever period may be longer, unless the court otherwise orders.
    2. (b) Amendments to Conform to the Evidence. When issues not raised by the pleadings are tried by express or implied cons ent of the parties, they shall be treated in all respects as if they had been raised in the pleadings. Such amendment of the pleadings as may be necessary to cause them to conform to the evidence and to raise these issues may be made upon motion of any party at any time, even after judgment; but failure so to amend does not affect the result of the trial of these issues. If evidence is objected to at the trial on the ground that it is not within the issues made by the pleadings, the court may allow the pleadings to be amended and shall do so freely when the presentation of the merits of the action will be subserved thereby and the objecting party fails to satisfy the court that the admission of such evidence would prejudice the objecting party in maintaining his or her action or defense upon the merits. The court may grant a continuance to enable the objecting party to meet such evidence.
    3. (c) Relation Back of Amendments. Whenever the claim or defense asserted in the amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading, the amendment relates back to the date of the original pleading. An amendment changing the party against whom a claim is asserted relates back if the foregoing provision is satisfied and, within the period provided by law for commencing the action against the party, the party to be brought in by amendment (1) has received such notice of the institution of the action that the party would not be prejudiced in ma intaining his or her defense on the merits, and (2) knew or should have known that but for a mistake the action would have been brought against the party.
    4. (d) Supplemental Pleadings. Upon motion of a party the court may, upon reasonable notice and upon such terms as are just, permit the party to serve a supplemental pleading, setting forth transactions or occurrences or events which have happened since the date of the pleading sought to be supplemented. Permission may be granted even though the original pleading is defective in its statement of a claim for relief or defense. If the court deems it advisable that the adverse party plead to the supplemental pleading, it shall so order, specifying the time therefor.

RULE 16. PRE-TRIAL PROCEDURE--FORMULATING ISSUES

    In any action the court may in its discretion direct the attorneys for the parties to appear before it for a conference to consider
    1. (1) The simplification of the issues;
    2. (2) The necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;
    3. (3) The possibility of obtaining admissions of fact and of documents which will avoid unnecessary proof;
    4. (4) The limitations of the number of expert witnesses;
    5. (5) Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the action. The court shall make an order which recites the action taken at the conference, the amendments allowed to the pleadings and the agreements made by the parties as to any of the matters considered, and which limits the issues for trial to those not disposed of by admissions or agreements of counsel; and such order when entered controls the subsequent course of the action, unless modified at the trial to prevent manifest injustice.