For this Assignment, you draft a complaint as if you are working for a paralegal for the law firm that represents Justin King. You should draft a complaint against Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
As stated in the accident report, the owner of the truck is Anheuser-Busch. Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. has its headquarters in the County of St. Louis, State of Missouri, and Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. also carries on business in the State of Illinois. Since Anheuser-Busch has its headquarters in Missouri, Anheuser-Busch is considered a citizen of Missouri for diversity of citizenship purposes. Justin King is a citizen of Illinois for diversity purposes. His address is 123 Main Street, Chicago, Illinois 60601 (In the Initial Client Interview, King indicates his address is 123 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri, but the correct address is 123 Main Street, Chicago, Illinois 60601). Frank Cuellar is the driver of the Anheuser-Busch truck in question. Cuellar is a resident and citizen of Cook County, Illinois. The accident took place in Paxton, Illinois. Paxton is located in Ford County, Illinois. The name of the court where you should file the complaint is the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Federal court jurisdiction will be based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction.
You can assume that the driver of the truck, Frank Cuellar, is an employee of Anheuser-Busch, and that Cuellar was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. As stated in the Initial Client Interview in Unit 1, King has $145,000 in past medical bills and has $100,000 in future medical expenses with plastic surgery and counseling.
Anheuser-Busch incurred total damages of $55,000 based on the accident involving Justin King. This includes $50,000 in damage to the beer truck and $5,000 in lost cargo. The vehicle was worth $120,000 before the accident and the vehicle was worth $70,000 immediately after the accident. As stated in the accident report, the date of the accident was April 8 [last year].
You should state only one cause of action for negligence in the complaint. The facts for the complaint should be based on the Initial Client Interview, information in the accident report, and the client intake form. For purposes of this simulated law office Assignment, do NOT include a summons or certificate of service. You should also not include the name of the judge or the civil action number since the court provides this information.
Use the Complaint Form to draft the complaint. Using the form, you should fill in the missing information. The complaint should be clean and presentable as if you were submitting the complaint to the court. Delete italics and instructions when using legal forms.
Certain sections of a complaint tend to be boilerplate language (for example, the greeting, damages, jury demand, prayer for relief). When looking at a complaint, sections are separate and in this order:
- Case caption: Tells which court you are in and who the parties are. Leaves room for the court clerk to stamp a case number onto. Do not put this information in column format. The Dole case forgot the close-quotes down the middle to cordon off the names from the court space. See the Viacom case for a proper case caption.
- Title of the pleading: The pleading here would be called the Complaint. In some jurisdictions, it is called a Petition.
- Short introduction: A typical introduction might state: “Comes Now, the plaintiff, Justin King, by and through his attorney, and alleges:” (It can be just this short)
- Parties: Who the parties are and where they reside to show the court it has personal jurisdiction over the parties.
- Jurisdiction and Venue: What statute or statutes give the court authority to hear the subject matter of the case and that the chosen courthouse is the correct one (i.e., venue).
- Allegations or Statement of Facts: What happened. Tell the story of the accident. Tell the story in the most succinct way possible. Do not skip around. Try to keep the flow so it is convincing. This is where computers are useful because you can cut and paste and rearrange paragraphs to make the client’s story more cohesive and enrapture the audience (the judge) to want to give you what you are asking for.
- Causes of Action: What legal theories are you asserting? What duty did defendant have towards plaintiff? How did defendant breach that duty? How was plaintiff hurt by the breach? Each cause of action is listed separately. See Chapter 4 in the book for the facts needed to be alleged for each cause of action.
- Damages: What is plaintiff asking for? Take a look at the damages request from the Dole case. It is a general damages request, and a lot of attorneys use just that wording in every complaint pleading they draft. Remember some lawyers consider this boilerplate language and cut from an old complaint pleading to paste into a new complaint pleading. (As you can tell, been there, done that to make life a little easier.) BUT keep in mind that depending on the causes of action you may need to be a lot more specific in your damages demand.
- Jury Demand: If you want a jury, you have to ask for it.
- Prayer for Relief: Ask the court nicely to help the plaintiff. Commonly considered boilerplate. The Dole E.coli case is a very good example.
- Date when the complaint is submitted to the court: This is especially important because there will always be a statute of limitation, a statute of repose, etc. and time matters to the law.
- Attorney information and signature: This is usually done single spaced, not double spaced. Remember the attorney’s bar number, street address, city, state and zip, phone number, and fax number. Also, who does the attorney represent?
Once you have your section headings and have started to craft the information within each section, remember to number your paragraphs sequentially (1, 2, 3, etc.; not 1.1, 1.2, 1.3). Click on “Resources” to access files to assist you in your Assignment.
Submit your Assignment to the Dropbox by the end of Unit 3 in the dropbox titled Unit 3: Assignment.