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Preparing and Filing a Complaint

complaintIf you are unable to resolve your dispute through pre-suit negotiation, you will need to file a complaint if you want to remedy the actions wrongfully perpetrated against you. The jurisdiction where the complaint must be filed is an important determination that should be completed by a legal professional or law firm such as Ryan, LLP. If you file your complaint in the wrong venue, you risk having your case dismissed without any consideration on the merits of your claim.

Most cases in Ohio are filed in the appropriate court of general jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of Ohio has a list of these courts located in Ohio, which can be found here.  However, depending on the nature and facts of your case, you may need to file your case in a court of limited jurisdiction, such as the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio or the  Court of Claims for the State of Ohio.

The complaint should be broken into several sections, beginning with case caption, then the factual section, a statement on jurisdiction, the individual counts, the demand, and a jury demand if one is required. The case caption should include the name of the court and jurisdiction where the complaint is filed. The caption should also include the names of all plaintiffs and defendants and whether a jury is demanded pursuant to Civil Rule 38. The content of the complaint must include all facts known to you that form the basis of your complaint. It must adequately describe the nature of the claims as to put all other parties on notice of the claims against them. In addition, there are several causes of action that require a heightened level of description, as required by Civil Rule 9. Failure to adhere to the Civil Rules will cause your complaint to be dismissed, regardless of merit.

The complaint must also include a demand. This demand is the specific relief you are seeking from the court. It is recommended this request be as specific as possible. The federal court system has a much more stringent requirement regarding their demands than Ohio courts, but it is recommended to specifically itemize all requested relief even in state court complaints. Include all possible damages, including all available statutory damages, common law damages, punitive or exemplary damages, attorney’s fees, costs, interest, any all other relief you seek from the court. If it is not requested in the demand, the court cannot grant it.

When filing the complaint, make sure you have all proper forms completed and have the necessary amount of copies. Typically you will need an original for the court, one copy for each defendant to be served, and additional copies for your records. You will also need a check to pay the filing fee. These fees range depending on the court and type of complaint you are filing. Usually you can check the Clerk of Courts webpage for the jurisdiction you want to file your complaint. For example, the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts list of fees can be found here.

 

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