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1 a : one of the formal declarations (as a complaint or answer) exchanged by the parties in a legal proceeding (as a suit) setting forth claims, averments, allegations, denials, or defenses
: a written document embodying such a declaration see also relation back
b : any of the allegations, averments, claims, denials, or defenses set forth in a pleading
: a pleading that sets out an alternative theory in support of a plaintiff's claim for relief or a defendant's defense
: a pleading that is filed to replace an original pleading and that contains matters omitted from or not known at the time of the original pleading
: a pleading that directly responds to another pleading (as by denying in an answer allegations in a complaint)
: a pleading that is factually false, is not made in good faith, and that may be struck
: a pleading that supplements an earlier pleading with matters that have occurred or come into existence since the date of the original pleading
2 : a process or system through which the parties in a legal proceeding present their allegations
: pleading (as fact pleading) done in accordance with the rules set down in a code NOTE: Code pleading began in 1848 in New York State and was a departure from the complex system of common-law pleading, which included a lengthy set of stages by which a single issue was produced, and which was determined by the type of writ under which the plaintiff proceeded.
: pleading that requires a plaintiff to set out in the complaint facts sufficient to establish a cause of action compare notice pleading in this entry
: pleading that is characterized esp. by a simplified description sufficient to give notice of a claim or defense rather than by a technical account of any facts pertinent to the claim or defense compare fact pleading in this entry NOTE: Notice pleading is allowed under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and in a majority of states, although complex cases often require substantial detail in the pleading.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.