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 Demurrer Explained by a Civil Litigation Lawyer

The Use of Demurrer by a Civil Litigation Lawyer

In many states, a defendant in a civil lawsuit has the ability to file a special form of pleading known as a demurrer. When a defendant submits a demurrer, they are arguing that even if all facts alleged by the plaintiff are true, there is no legal basis for a claim. For example if a plaintiff fails to state a cause of action, fails identify appropriate venue, does not have any standing, or has a claim that is based on a blatantly false and incomprehensible conclusion of law, then a defendant can file a demurrer to say that whether the defendant performed any of the actions alleged by the plaintiff is irrelevant; the plaintiff failed to make a proper legal claim. Plaintiffs can also file demurrers against a Defendants counterclaim if the counterclaim lacks the necessary components of a proper claim. 

 Demurrers are a powerful tool because they can result in major victories for defendants without ever needing to litigate the truth of facts, which is an exhaustive and expensive process. Defendant’s can save themselves the time of sifting through and evaluating the quality of many items of evidence to build an extensive list of exhibits that may or may not prove the defendant’s version of how events unfolded. Instead of wasting unnecessary time and effort to prove facts false, a defendant can simply file a demurrer which puts the ball back into the plaintiff’s court. Furthermore Demurrers can help protect people from frivolous and nonsensical claims by giving defendants an opportunity to nullify baseless claims for procedural inadequacy. 

A successful demurrer filed by a defendant can impose extra legal costs to the plaintiff because they will need to spend more time to rewrite their complaint. This may result in a plaintiff giving up in pursuing their claim against the defendant. However, demurrers are a double edged sword and sometimes a demurrer can result in giving a plaintiff a second opportunity to write their complaint, resulting in a stronger, better written complaint being filed the second time. 

Not all states allow demurrers, and some states may use another name for the same type of pleading. If you are the defendant in a civil case and think that you have an opportunity to file a demurrer, or you are a potential plaintiff and you would like to make sure that your complaint is free from usual defects that can result in the opposing party filing a demurrer, you may want to speak with an experienced civil suit lawyer people rely on.