In General. This and the other pleading forms available from the www.uscourts.gov website illustrate some types of information that are useful to have in complaints and some other pleadings. The forms do not try to cover every type of case. They are limited to types of cases often filed in federal courts by those who represent themselves or who may not have much experience in federal courts.
Not Legal Advice. No form provides legal advice. No form substitutes for having or consulting a lawyer. If you are not a lawyer and are suing or have been sued, it is best to have or consult a lawyer if possible.
No Guarantee. Following a form does not guarantee that any pleading is legally or factually correct or sufficient.
Variations Possible. A form may call for more or less information than a particular court requires. The fact that a form asks for certain information does not mean that every court or a particular court requires it. And if the form does not ask for certain information, a particular court might still require it. Consult the rules and caselaw that govern in the court where you are filing the pleading.
Examples Only. The forms do not try to address or cover all the different types of claims or defenses, or how specific facts might affect a particular claim or defense. Some of the forms, such as the form for a generic complaint, apply to different types of cases. Others apply only to specific types of cases. Be careful to use the form that fits your case and the type of pleading you want to file. Be careful to change the information the form asks for to fit the facts and circumstances of your case.
No Guidance on Timing or Parties. The forms do not give any guidance on when certain kinds of pleadings or claims or defenses have to be raised, or who has to be sued. Some pleadings, claims, or defenses have to be raised at a certain point in the case or within a certain period of time. And there are limits on who can be named as a party in a case and when they have to be added. Lawyers and people representing themselves must know the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the caselaw setting out these and other requirements. The current Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are available, for free, at www.uscourts.gov.
Privacy Requirements. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 5.2 addresses the privacy and security concerns over public access to electronic court files. Under this rule, papers filed with the court should not contain anyone’s full social-security number or full birth date; the name of a person known to be a minor; or a complete financial-account number. A filing may include only the last four digits of a social-security number and taxpayer identification number; the year of someone’s birth; a minor’s initials; and the last four digits of a financial-account number.