Complaint (Non Prisoner) | Pdf Fpdf Doc Docx | Wisconsin

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Complaint (Non Prisoner) | Pdf Fpdf Doc Docx | Wisconsin

Last updated: 4/7/2017

Complaint (Non Prisoner)

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Guide to Filing Non-Prisoner Complaints Without a Lawyer In Federal District Court Introduction Welcome to the federal district courts. This Guide is intended to help you write and file a complaint. Follow these steps and your litigation should run more smoothly. The Guide comes with two attachments: Attachment 1 is a blank form for your complaint and an optional blank application to proceed in court without prepaying the filing fee. You are encouraged to use the form complaint. You are not required to do so, but using it will help your case move more quickly. Attachment 2 contains examples of claims. These illustrations may help you write your own claim. Before you begin, consider whether your case belongs in federal court. Federal district courts generally hear two types of cases: (1) violations of federal law; and (2) violations of state law where the parties are citizens of different states and the amount at stake is more than $75,000. Federal district courts do not review the decisions of state courts. Do not sue in a federal district court just because you are unhappy with the ruling of a state court. Guide ­ 1 American LegalNet, Inc. Contents of Your Complaint Cases in federal court start with the complaint, and so does this guide. The complaint is an important legal document. If you draft it correctly, it will be short and tell the court and defendants how your rights were violated. What to put in your complaint: Your complaint needs five things. These five parts correspond to the five sections that you see in the form complaint in Attachment 1. A. Caption and parties. Your complaint must begin with a "caption." The caption must include your name as the plaintiff and the names of the people you are suing (the defendants). (If the defendants harmed you while doing their jobs, tell the court the name and address of the employers, if known to you.) Also, name the federal court in which you will be filing your complaint. Do not fill in the case number. This will be done by the clerk when you file your complaint. From then on, you should put the case number on papers that you file with the court. This helps the court keep all the papers in each case together. Statement of Claim. The most important part of your complaint is the "statement of your claim." Describe briefly the exact problem that you are complaining about. You should explain five things: (1) Who violated your rights. Tell the name of each person who injured you. (2) What each defendant did. Tell what action each defendant took or failed to take that harmed you. (3) When they did it. Tell when each defendant harmed you. (4) Where they did it. Tell where each defendant harmed you. (5) Why they did it. If you know, tell the court why each defendant harmed you. B. Guide ­ 2 American LegalNet, Inc. Explain the "who," "what," "when," "where," and "why" clearly and simply. Tell the story as if you are telling it to someone who knows nothing about what happened to you, but put only the important facts in your statement of the claim. A short and plain statement helps the judge to review your complaint quickly and move onto the next step of your case. A long complaint will take a judge longer to review and understand, and the judge may tell you to rewrite it. This will delay your case. You may find it helpful to look at the examples of statements of a claim in Attachment 2. Do not copy these examples or assume that the plaintiffs in these examples would win their cases. The examples show you how to write your claim, not what to say in your claim. You may type or handwrite your complaint, so long as it's readable. If you cannot finish your statement on the complaint form, you may continue your statement of the claim on another sheet of paper. C. Why your case belongs in federal court ("Jurisdiction"). State why a federal court can decide your case. There are two main possibilities. (1) If your case involves a violation of federal law, a federal court can decide your case, and you should check the first box on the form. This box refers to a federal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the law that gives federal courts the power to decide cases involving the violation of federal law. (2) If your case involves only a violation of state law, you may be able to check the second box. Generally, in order to check the second box, all the defendants must be citizens of a state other than the one of which you (and any other plaintiffs) are a citizen. In addition, more than $75,000 must be in dispute. Guide ­ 3 American LegalNet, Inc. D. Relief Wanted. Your complaint should include a request for relief-- what you want from each defendant, such as money or some particular action. Jury Demand. If you want to have your case decided by a jury, check "Yes" in the box provided. If you want the judge to decide it, check the other box. E. What NOT to put in your complaint DO NOT attach a lot of papers or long statements from witnesses. If you want the judge to know about a fact, just write the fact in your complaint. The complaint is not the place for proving facts. When the judge needs proof, you will have a chance to submit it later. DO NOT include in your complaint lengthy quotations from statutes, laws, regulations, or cases. If you want, you may simply list the statute, law, or regulation that you believe the defendants violated. Later in the case, the defendants or the judge may ask you to explain in more detail why you think that the defendants have violated a law. You will then have an opportunity to quote from statutes, laws, regulations, or cases. DO NOT include in your complaint unrelated claims against different defendants. You may bring the same claim against more than one defendant only if all of the named defendants played some part in the same situation that resulted in the alleged violation of your rights. Note to employment-discrimination plaintiffs: Before you file a lawsuit for employment discrimination, you are generally required to ask the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or equivalent state agency) to address your claims. If you do not do this, the defendants may ask the court to dismiss your case and the court may do so. Guide ­ 4 American LegalNet, Inc. Filing Your Complaint To file your complaint, you must pay a filing fee. You should call the clerk's office to find out the current fee. (The phone numbers and addresses for the

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