Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10

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Rule 10. Form of Pleadings

(a) CAPTION; NAMES OF PARTIES. Every pleading must have a caption with the court’s name, a title, a file number, and a Rule 7(a) designation. The title of the complaint must name all the parties; the title of other pleadings, after naming the first party on each side, may refer generally to other parties.

(b) PARAGRAPHS; SEPARATE STATEMENTS. A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances. A later pleading may refer by number to a paragraph in an earlier pleading. If doing so would promote clarity, each claim founded on a separate trans action or occurrence—and each defense other than a denial—must be stated in a separate count or defense.

(c) ADOPTION BY REFERENCE; EXHIBITS. A statement in a pleading may be adopted by reference elsewhere in the same pleading or in any other pleading or motion. A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes.

Essential Points

what are pleadings?

Pleadings refer to the initial documents that parties submit when commencing a case. Pleadings include the complaint, which is the document in which the plaintiff alleges how defendants injured him, and the answer, in which the defendant responds to the complaint.
  • Rule 10 tells us what Complaints and Answers look like in the United States.
  • At the top left of the Complaint is the caption which will tell you the court and the parties.  In the model caption below you can see that the case is in a federal court in New York – – the Southern District of New York.  The top right  (or sometimes at the very top of the page), you will see a number called the case number, which is assigned by the court.  The case number often will include a “cv” which tells us that this is a federal civil case.  Letters at the end (below I used “ABC”) tell us the initials of the judge assigned to the case (e.g, Judge Abraham B. Cleverhead).

  • A Complaint’s allegations are put in separate paragraphs.  Sometimes more than one allegation is contained in a single paragraph but to keep things understandable each paragraph is generally limited to a “single set of circumstances.”  You’ll often see headings, such as “background” and “jurisdiction” in the Complaint.  Headings make reading the Complaint easier but are not considered part of the Complaint.
  • By way of example, below are paragraphs five and six of a Complaint filed by Apple against Samsung.

  • The Answer will respond to the allegations in the Complaint.  The Answer contain its own separate paragraphs in which the defendant responds to each of the paragraphs in the Complaint.