If I get served with a complaint, what do I do?
- Read the summons and the complaint or petition. It is important to read both the summons (or citation) and the complaint (or petition) very carefully. The complaint or petition will tell you what claims are being made against you. The summons or citation will include important instructions on what steps you should take to defend yourself. Know the rules that apply to your case and follow them.
- Write and file an answer. The "answer" is your written response to the claims made against you. You must file an answer with the court that issued the summons or citation. If you fail to answer, you could lose the case without ever having the opportunity to tell your side of the story. The summons or citation will provide you with information regarding where and when to file your answer.
- Serve the other party with a copy of the answer. You have to serve the other party with a copy of your answer. Consult the rules to find out how. The clerk's or register's or recorder's office might also be able to answer questions you have. The Trial Court law libraries are a source of information as well....
Source: Massachusetts Judicial Branch Website, Administrative Office of the Trial Court
For cases brought under the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, information about filing a motion to dismiss or an answer to the complaint, as well as affirmative defenses, counterclaims and other procedural steps can be found in such titles as:
MCLE's Superior Court Civil Practice Manual, Chapter 3 Drafting Pleadings and Chapter 6 Dispositive Motions.
MCLE's Superior Court Civil Practice Forms, Chapter 3 and Chapter 6 (samples of pleadings and dispositive motions.)
You can tailor the sample forms to your case's circumstances.
You can learn about Subject areas of the law by reading our webpages and by visiting one of our 17 Trial Court Law Libraries. If you have a Trial Court Law Library card, you can borrow most titles in our collections. You can also use our online catalog to check for and request titles you would like to use, and have them held for you at the Trial Court Law Library of your choice.