What are the grounds for filing a Motion to Dismiss a Complaint?

Full Question:

A complaint has been filed against me that has no supporting evidence. The complaint is based on untruths that can be proven by the plaintiffs own contradictions in their complaints and motions. Can I file a motion to dismiss?
02/09/2007   |   Category: Courts ยป Pleadings   |   State: Illinois   |   #604


A complaint is a general statement of the plaintiff's claim. The complaint must describe the actions that led to the claim of a violation (i.e., violation of rights). The claim can be for money damages. It could also be a claim for equitable remedies like specific performance (e.g., court forcing a party to abide by a contract) or an injunction (e.g., stopping a person from doing something).

In the answer, the defendant tells his side of the story. He is supposed to admit facts that are true and deny allegations that are not true. This answer must be filed within a certain period of time which is usually stated on the summons. Failure to file an answer can result in a default judgment against the defendant. This is a judgment for failure to defend that is entered against the defendant just like there had been a trial.

Motions are formal requests for the court to take some sort of action. The pleadings generally will consist of the complaint, the answer, any counterclaim, and all motions. In a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the defendant is arguing that even if everything said in the complaint were true, plaintiff would still have no cause of action against defendant. For example, suppose you have a business partner who calls you a liar in a room where only you and your partner were present. You sue you partner for slander. He would be entitled to a judgment on the pleadings since there was no publication (verbally or in writing) of your slanderous remark. Only he heard it. If the court grants this motion, the case is over unless you appeal the judgment.

Another type of motion that is often filed is a motion to dismiss. Two common grounds for this motion are expiration of the appropriate statute of limitations or that the court lacks jurisdiction over the case. For example, chancery courts in Mississippi have jurisdiction over disputes involving land. If such a dispute were filed in circuit court, a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction would be appropriate.

A motion for summary judgment is appropriate in situations where there are no important facts in dispute and the only dispute is how the law should be applied to the facts. If there is no dispute over the important facts of the case, there is nothing for a jury to determine since that is their job, to decide what the facts are based on the evidence presented at trial. The judge will therefore apply the law to the facts and render a judgment. That will be the end of the case unless there is an appeal. Generally, this motion is not made unless all discovery has been completed.