Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Overview
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) govern civil procedure
Civil procedure
Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits...

 (i.e. for
civil lawsuits) in United States district (federal) court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s. The FRCP are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act
Rules Enabling Act
The Rules Enabling Act is an Act of Congress that gave the judicial branch the power to promulgate the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Amendments to the Act allowed for the creation of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and other procedural court rules...

, and then the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 has 7 months to veto the rules promulgated or they become part of the FRCP. The Court's modifications to the rules are usually based upon recommendations from the Judicial Conference of the United States
Judicial Conference of the United States
The Judicial Conference of the United States, formerly known as Conference of Senior Circuit Judges, was created by the United States Congress in 1922 with the principal objective of framing policy guidelines for administration of judicial courts in the United States...

, the federal judiciary's internal policy-making body.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) govern civil procedure
Civil procedure
Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits...

 (i.e. for
civil lawsuits) in United States district (federal) court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s. The FRCP are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act
Rules Enabling Act
The Rules Enabling Act is an Act of Congress that gave the judicial branch the power to promulgate the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Amendments to the Act allowed for the creation of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and other procedural court rules...

, and then the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 has 7 months to veto the rules promulgated or they become part of the FRCP. The Court's modifications to the rules are usually based upon recommendations from the Judicial Conference of the United States
Judicial Conference of the United States
The Judicial Conference of the United States, formerly known as Conference of Senior Circuit Judges, was created by the United States Congress in 1922 with the principal objective of framing policy guidelines for administration of judicial courts in the United States...

, the federal judiciary's internal policy-making body. Although federal courts are required to apply the substantive law of the states as rules of decision in cases where state law is in question, the federal courts almost always use the FRCP as their rules of procedure
Civil procedure
Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits...

. (States may determine their own rules, which apply in state courts, although most states have adopted rules that are based on the FRCP.)

The Rules, established in 1938, replaced the earlier Field Code and common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 pleading systems. Significant revisions have been made to the FRCP in 1948, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1993, 2000, and 2006. (The FRCP contains a notes section that details the changes of each revision since 1938, explaining the rationale behind the language). The revisions that took effect in December 2006 made practical changes to discovery
Discovery (law)
In U.S.law, discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the opposing party by means of discovery devices including requests for answers to interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for...

 rules to make it easier for courts and litigating parties to manage electronic records.

The FRCP were completely rewritten, effective December 1, 2007, under the leadership of a committee headed by law professor and editor of Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States. It was founded by Henry Campbell Black. It is the reference of choice for definitions in legal briefs and court opinions and has been cited as a secondary legal authority in many U.S...

, Bryan A. Garner
Bryan A. Garner
Bryan A. Garner is a U.S. lawyer, lexicographer, and teacher who has written several books about English usage and style, including Garner's Modern American Usage. He is the editor in chief of all current editions of Black's Law Dictionary...

, for the avowed purpose of making them easier to understand. The style amendments were not intended to make substantive changes in the rules.

Effective December 1, 2009 substantial amendments were made to rules 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, 23, 27, 32, 38, 48, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 62, 65, 68, 71.1, 72 and 81. While rules 48 and 62.1 were added. Rule 1 (f) was abrogated. The majority of the amendments affect various timing requirements and change how some deadlines are calculated. The most significant changes are to Rule 6.

Before the FRCP were established, common-law pleading was more formal, traditional, and particular in its phrases and requirements. For example, a plaintiff bringing a trespass
Trespass
Trespass is an area of tort law broadly divided into three groups: trespass to the person, trespass to chattels and trespass to land.Trespass to the person, historically involved six separate trespasses: threats, assault, battery, wounding, mayhem, and maiming...

 suit would have to mention certain key words in his complaint or risk having it dismissed with prejudice. In contrast, the FRCP is based upon a legal construction called notice pleading, which is less formal, is created and modified by legal experts, and is far less technical in requirements. In notice pleading, the same plaintiff bringing suit would not face dismissal for lack of the exact legal term, as long as the claim itself was legally actionable. The policy behind this change is to simply give "notice" of grievances and to leave the details for later in the case. This acts in the interest of equity
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 by concentrating on the actual law rather than the exact construction of pleas.

Thirty-five states have adopted procedural codes based on the Federal Rules, but sometimes there are slight variations.

In addition to notice pleading, a minority of states (e.g., California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

) use an intermediate system known as code pleading, which is a system older than notice pleading and which is based upon legislative statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

. It tends to straddle the gulf between obsolete common-law pleading and modern notice pleading. Code pleading places additional burdens on a party to plead the "ultimate facts" of its case, laying out the party's entire case and the facts or allegations underlying it. Notice pleading, by contrast, simply requires a "short and plain statement" showing only that the pleader is entitled to relief
Relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

. (FRCP 8(a)(2)). One important exception to this rule is that, when a party alleges fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

, it must plead the fact
Fact
A fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be shown to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts...

s of the alleged fraud with particularity. (FRCP 9(b)).

(The Field Code, which was adopted between 1848 and 1850, was an intermediate step between common law and modern rules, created by New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 attorney David Dudley Field. Field's code, among other reforms, merged law and equity proceedings.)

Chapters of Rules


There are 86 rules in the FRCP, which are grouped into 11 chapters. Listed below are the most commonly used categories and rules.

Chapter I - Scope of the FRCP


Rules 1 and 2.

Chapter I is a sort of "mission statement" for the FRCP; Rule 1 states that the rules "shall be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action." Rule 2 unifies the procedure of law and equity in the federal courts by specifying that there shall be one form of action, the "civil action
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

."

Chapter II - Commencement of Suits


Rules 3 to 6.

Chapter II covers commencement of civil suits and includes filing, summons, and service of process
Service of process
Service of process is the procedure employed to give legal notice to a person of a court or administrative body's exercise of its jurisdiction over that person so as to enable that person to respond to the proceeding before the court, body or other tribunal...

. Rule 3 provides that a civil action is commenced by filing a complaint
Complaint
In legal terminology, a complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons that the filing party or parties In legal terminology, a complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons (see: cause of action) that the filing party or parties In...

 with the court. Rule 4 deals with procedure for issuance of a summons
Summons
Legally, a summons is a legal document issued by a court or by an administrative agency of government for various purposes.-Judicial summons:...

, when the complaint is filed, and for the service
Service of process
Service of process is the procedure employed to give legal notice to a person of a court or administrative body's exercise of its jurisdiction over that person so as to enable that person to respond to the proceeding before the court, body or other tribunal...

 of the summons and complaint on the defendants. Rule 5 requires that all papers
Legal instrument
Legal instrument is a legal term of art that is used for any formally executed written document that can be formally attributed to its author, records and formally expresses a legally enforceable act, process, or contractual duty, obligation, or right, and therefore evidences that act, process, or...

 in an action be served on all parties and be filed with the court. Rule 6 deals with technical issues, which concern the computation of time, and authorizes the courts to extend certain deadlines in appropriate circumstances.

Chapter III - Pleadings and Motions


Rules 7 to 16.

Chapter III covers pleading
Pleading
In law as practiced in countries that follow the English models, a pleading is a formal written statement filed with a court by parties in a civil action, other than a motion...

s, motions
Motion (legal)
In law, a motion is a procedural device to bring a limited, contested issue before a court for decision. A motion may be thought of as a request to the judge to make a decision about the case. Motions may be made at any point in administrative, criminal or civil proceedings, although that right is...

, defenses, and counterclaim
Counterclaim
In civil procedure, a party's claim is a counterclaim if the defending party has previously made a claim against the claiming party.Examples of counterclaims include:...

s. The plaintiff's original pleading is called a complaint
Complaint
In legal terminology, a complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons that the filing party or parties In legal terminology, a complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons (see: cause of action) that the filing party or parties In...

. The defendant's original pleading is called an answer
Answer
Generally, an answer is a reply to a question or is a solution, a retaliation, or a response that is relevant to the said question.In law, an answer was originally a solemn assertion in opposition to some one or something, and thus generally any counter-statement or defense, a reply to a question...

.

Rule 8(a) sets out the plaintiff's requirements for a claim: a "short and plain statement" of jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

, a "short and plain statement" of the claim, and a demand for judgment. It also allows relief in the alternative, so the plaintiff does not have to pre-guess the remedy most likely to be accepted by the court.

Rule 8(b) states that the defendant's
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

 answer
Answer
Generally, an answer is a reply to a question or is a solution, a retaliation, or a response that is relevant to the said question.In law, an answer was originally a solemn assertion in opposition to some one or something, and thus generally any counter-statement or defense, a reply to a question...

 must admit or deny every element of the plaintiff's claim.

Rule 8(c) also requires that the defendant's
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

 answer must state any affirmative defense
Affirmative defense
A defendant offers an affirmative defense when responding to a plaintiff's claim in common law jurisdictions, or, more familiarly, in criminal law. Essentially, the defendant affirms that the condition is occurring or has occurred but offers a defense that bars, or prevents, the plaintiff's claim. ...

s.

Rule 10 describes what information should be in the caption (the front page) of a pleading, but does not explain how such information should actually be organized in the caption. The FRCP is notoriously vague on how papers should be formatted. Most of the details missing from the FRCP are to be found in local rules promulgated by each district court and in general orders by each individual federal judge. For example, federal courts in most West Coast states require line numbers on the left margin on all filings (to match local practice in the courts of the states in which they sit), but most other federal courts do not.

Rule 11 requires all papers to be signed by the attorney (if party is represented). It also provides for sanctions
Sanctions (law)
Sanctions are penalties or other means of enforcement used to provide incentives for obedience with the law, or with rules and regulations. Criminal sanctions can take the form of serious punishment, such as corporal or capital punishment, incarceration, or severe fines...

 against the attorney or client for harassment, frivolous arguments, or a lack of factual investigation. The purpose of sanctions is deterrent, not punitive. Courts have broad discretion about the exact nature of the sanction, which can include consent to in personam jurisdiction, fines, dismissal of claims, or dismissal of the entire case. The current version of Rule 11 is much more lenient than its 1983 version. Supporters of tort reform
Tort reform
Tort reform refers to proposed changes in common law civil justice systems that would reduce tort litigation or damages. Tort actions are civil common law claims first created in the English commonwealth system as a non-legislative means for compensating wrongs and harm done by one party to...

 in Congress regularly call for legislation to make Rule 11 stricter.

Rule 12(b) describes pretrial motions that can be filed.
  1. lack of subject matter jurisdiction
    Subject-matter jurisdiction
    Subject-matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. For instance, bankruptcy court only has the authority to hear bankruptcy cases....

  2. lack of personal jurisdiction
  3. improper venue
    Venue (law)
    Venue is the location where a case is heard. In the United States, the venue is either a county or a district or division . Venue deals with locality of a lawsuit--that is, in which locale a lawsuit may be filed or commenced...

  4. insufficient process
  5. insufficient service of process
    Service of process
    Service of process is the procedure employed to give legal notice to a person of a court or administrative body's exercise of its jurisdiction over that person so as to enable that person to respond to the proceeding before the court, body or other tribunal...

  6. failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; and
  7. failure to join a party under Rule 19.


The Rule 12(b)(6) motion, which replaced the common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 demurrer
Demurrer
A demurrer is a pleading in a lawsuit that objects to or challenges a pleading filed by an opposing party. The word demur means "to object"; a demurrer is the document that makes the objection...

, is how lawsuits with insufficient legal theories underlying their cause of action
Cause of action
In the law, a cause of action is a set of facts sufficient to justify a right to sue to obtain money, property, or the enforcement of a right against another party. The term also refers to the legal theory upon which a plaintiff brings suit...

 are dismissed from court. For example, assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

 requires intent, so if the plaintiff has failed to plead intent, the defense can seek dismissal by filing a 12(b)(6) motion. “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (No. 05-1126) (2007) (citations, internal quotation marks and footnote omitted). 12(b)(6) is the second of three procedural "hurdles" a cause of action
Cause of action
In the law, a cause of action is a set of facts sufficient to justify a right to sue to obtain money, property, or the enforcement of a right against another party. The term also refers to the legal theory upon which a plaintiff brings suit...

 must surmount before it gets to a trial (the first are the two jurisdictional dismissals, found in 12 (b)(1) and (2), and the third is summary judgment, found in Rule 56). A 12(b)(6) motion cannot include additional evidence such as affidavits. To dispose of claims with insufficient factual basis (where the movant must submit additional facts to demonstrate the factual weakness in the plaintiff's case), a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment
Summary judgment
In law, a summary judgment is a determination made by a court without a full trial. Such a judgment may be issued as to the merits of an entire case, or of specific issues in that case....

 is used.

Rules 12(g) and 12(h) are also important because they state that if 12(b)(2)-12(b)(5) motions are not properly bundled together or included in an answer/allowable amendment to an answer, they are waived. Additionally, because 12(b)(1) motions are so fundamental, they may never be waived throughout the course of litigation, and 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(7) motions may be filed at any time until trial ends.

Rule 13 describes when a defendant is allowed or required to assert claims against other parties to the suit (joinder
Joinder
Joinder is a legal term, which refers to the process of joining two or more legal issues together to be heard in one hearing or trial. It is done when the issues or parties involved overlap sufficiently to make the process more efficient or more fair...

). The law encourages people to resolve all of their differences as efficiently as possible; consequently, in many jurisdictions, counterclaims that arise out of the same transaction or occurrence (compulsory counterclaims) must be brought during the original suit, or they will be barred from future litigation (preclusion).

Rule 14 allows parties to bring in other third parties to a lawsuit.

Rule 15 allows pleadings to be amended or supplemented. Plaintiffs may amend once before an answer is filed, a defendant can amend once within 21 days of serving an answer, and if there is no right to amend, seek leave of court ("leave shall be given when justice so requires.")

Chapter IV - Parties


Rules 17 to 25.
Rule 17 states that all actions must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest, that is, the plaintiff must be person or entity whose rights are at issue in the case.

Rule 18 - Joinder of Claims and Remedies - states that a plaintiff who may plead in a single civil action as many claims as the plaintiff has against a defendant, even if the claims are not related, and may request any remedy to which the law entitles the plaintiff. Of course, each claim must have its own basis for jurisdiction in the court in which it is brought or be subject to dismissal.

Rule 19 - Compulsory Joinder
Joinder
Joinder is a legal term, which refers to the process of joining two or more legal issues together to be heard in one hearing or trial. It is done when the issues or parties involved overlap sufficiently to make the process more efficient or more fair...

 of Parties - if a person is who is not a party to the suit is "necessary" to just adjudication the action, under the criteria set forth in subsection (a), then upon motion of any party that person shall be made a party, served with suit, and required to participate in the action. If the person cannot be made a party for any reason, such as lack of jurisdiction, inability to be located, etc., then the court uses the criteria in subsection (b) to determine if the absent party is "indispensable". If so, the action must be dismissed.

Rule 20 Permissive Joinder of Parties.
Joinder of parties at common law was controlled by the substantive rules of law, often as reflected in the forms of action, rather than by notions of judicial economy and trial convenience. Permissive joinder of plaintiffs allows the plaintiffs having an option to join their claims when they were not joint. (Ryder v. Jefferson Hotel Co.)

Rule 23 governs the procedure for class action
Class action
In law, a class action, a class suit, or a representative action is a form of lawsuit in which a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court and/or in which a class of defendants is being sued...

 litigation. In a class action, a single plaintiff or small group of plaintiffs seeks to proceed on behalf of an entire class who allegedly have been harmed by the same conduct by the same defendants. Court approval is required for this procedure to be used. Rule 23.1 governs derivative suit
Derivative suit
A shareholder derivative suit is a lawsuit brought by a shareholder on behalf of a corporation against a third party. Often, the third party is an insider of the corporation, such as an executive officer or director. Shareholder derivative suits are unique because under traditional corporate law,...

s in which a plaintiff seeks to assert a right belonging to a corporation (or similar entity) in which the plaintiff is a shareholder, on behalf of the corporation that is not pursuing the claim itself. Rule 23.2 governs actions by or against unincorporated associations.

Chapter V - Discovery


Rules 26 to 37.

Chapter V covers the rules of discovery
Discovery (law)
In U.S.law, discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the opposing party by means of discovery devices including requests for answers to interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for...

.
Modern civil litigation is based upon the idea that the parties should not be subject to surprises at trial. Discovery is the process whereby civil litigants seek to obtain information both from other parties and from non parties (or third parties). Parties have a series of tools with which they can obtain information:

1) Document requests
Request for production
A request for production is a legal request for documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible items. In civil procedure, during the discovery phase of litigation, a party to a lawsuit may request that another party provide any documents that it has that pertain to the subject...

: a party can seek documents and other real objects from parties and non parties

2) Interrogatories
Interrogatories
In law, interrogatories are a formal set of written questions propounded by one litigant and required to be answered by an adversary, in order to clarify matters of fact and help to determine in advance what facts will be presented at any trial in the case.In civil cases, the issues to be decided...

: a party can require other parties to answer 25 questions

3) Requests for admissions: A party can require other parties to admit or deny the truth of certain statements

4) Deposition
Deposition (law)
In the law of the United States, a deposition is the out-of-court oral testimony of a witness that is reduced to writing for later use in court or for discovery purposes. It is commonly used in litigation in the United States and Canada and is almost always conducted outside of court by the...

s: A party can require at most 10 individuals or representatives of organizations to make themselves available for questioning for a maximum of one day of 7 hours, without obtaining leave of court.

Federal procedure also requires parties to divulge certain information without a formal discovery request, in contrast to many state courts where most discovery can only be had by request. Information covered by this initial disclosure is found in Rule 26(a)(1)(A), includes information about potential witnesses, information/copies about all documents that may be used in the party's claim (excluding impeachment material), computations of damages, and insurance information. Information about any expert witness testimony is also required.

Notable exceptions to the discovery rules include impeachment evidence/witnesses, "work product" (materials an attorney uses to prepare for the trial especially documents containing mental impressions, legal conclusions, or opinions of counsel), and experts who are used exclusively for trial prep and will not testify.

FRCP Rule 26 provides general guidelines to the discovery process, it requires the plaintiff
Plaintiff
A plaintiff , also known as a claimant or complainant, is the term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit before a court...

 to initiate a conference
Initial Conference (Law)
An Initial conference is one of the first steps of the discovery process in a civil case. In the U.S. federal court system, initial conferences are governed by Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.-Rule 26 Conference:...

 between the parties to plan the discovery process. The parties must confer as soon as practicable after the complaint
Complaint
In legal terminology, a complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons that the filing party or parties In legal terminology, a complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons (see: cause of action) that the filing party or parties In...

 was served to the defendants — and in any event at least 21 days before a scheduling conference is to be held or a scheduling order is due under Rule 16(b). The parties should attempt to agree on the proposed discovery plan, and submit it to the court within 14 days after the conference. The Discovery Plan must state the parties' proposals on subject of the discovery, limitations on discovery, case management schedule and timing deadlines for each stage of the discovery process, including:
  • End-date of the discovery. This should be at least 60 days before the trial. The trial target date is usually 6 months to 2 years after the conference.
  • Amendments to the deadlines for filing pleadings under FRCP 7&15, if any.
  • Deadline for amending pleadings. Normally it is at least 30 days before the discovery ends.
  • Deadline for joining claims, remedies and parties (FRCP 18&19). Normally it is at least 30 days before the discovery ends.
  • Deadline for initial expert disclosures and rebuttal expert disclosures. Normally it is at least 30 days before the discovery ends.
  • Deadline for dispositive motions. Usually it is at least 30 days after the discovery end-date.
  • Deadline for Pre-trial order. If any dispositive motions are filed, the Joint Pretrial Order can be filed at least 30 days after the last decision on the merits.

Unless all parties agree otherwise, the parties should submit to each other the Initial Disclosures under Rule 26(a) within 14 days after the conference. Only after the Initial Disclosures have been send, the main discovery process begins which includes: depositions
Deposition (law)
In the law of the United States, a deposition is the out-of-court oral testimony of a witness that is reduced to writing for later use in court or for discovery purposes. It is commonly used in litigation in the United States and Canada and is almost always conducted outside of court by the...

, interrogatories
Interrogatories
In law, interrogatories are a formal set of written questions propounded by one litigant and required to be answered by an adversary, in order to clarify matters of fact and help to determine in advance what facts will be presented at any trial in the case.In civil cases, the issues to be decided...

, request for admissions
Request for admissions
A request for admissions are a set of statements sent from one litigant to an adversary, for the purpose of having the adversary admit or deny the statements or allegations therein. Requests for admissions are part of the discovery process in a civil case. In the U.S...

(RFA) and request for production
Request for production
A request for production is a legal request for documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible items. In civil procedure, during the discovery phase of litigation, a party to a lawsuit may request that another party provide any documents that it has that pertain to the subject...

 of documents(RFP). As stated above, there is a limitation on number of interrogatories and depositions, but there is no limitation on RFAs and RFPs. Some states, like California, have different limitations set in their Local Rules. FRCP requires that the party to whom the request for Interrogatories, RFA or RFP is directed must respond in writing within 30 days after being served, otherwise the requestor can file a motion to compel
Motion to compel
A motion to compel asks the court to order either the opposing party or a third party to take some action. This sort of motion most commonly deals with discovery disputes, when a party who has propounded discovery to either the opposing party or a third party believes that the discovery responses...

 discovery and for sanctions.

Chapter VI - Trial


Rules 38 to 53.

Chapter VI deals generally with the trial
Trial
A trial is, in the most general sense, a test, usually a test to see whether something does or does not meet a given standard.It may refer to:*Trial , the presentation of information in a formal setting, usually a court...

 of civil actions, although some other topics are also included. Rules 38 and 39 deal with the parties' right to a trial by jury
Trial by Jury
Trial by Jury is a comic opera in one act, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It was first produced on 25 March 1875, at London's Royalty Theatre, where it initially ran for 131 performances and was considered a hit, receiving critical praise and outrunning its...

 and the procedure for requesting a jury trial instead of a bench trial
Bench trial
A bench trial is a trial held before a judge sitting without a jury. The term is chiefly used in common law jurisdictions to describe exceptions from jury trial, as most other legal systems do not use juries to any great extent....

. These rules must be construed in light of the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was ratified as part of the Bill of Rights, codifies the right to a jury trial in certain civil cases. However, in some civil cases, the Supreme Court has not incorporated the right to a jury trial to the states in the fashion which...

, which preserves a right to jury trial in most actions at common law (as opposed to equity cases). Rule 40 deals in general terms with the order in which cases will be scheduled for trial and has little significance in practice.

Rule 41 deals with dismissal of actions. An action may be voluntarily dismissed at any time by the plaintiff prior to the defendant's filing of an Answer or Motion for Summary Judgment. In such an instance, the court retains jurisdiction only to award attorneys fees or costs (in rare circumstances). With certain exceptions (e.g. class actions), an action may also be dismissed at any time by agreement of the parties (e.g. when the parties reach a settlement). An action may also be involuntarily dismissed by the court if the plaintiff fails to comply with deadlines or court orders.

Rule 42 deals with consolidation of related cases or the holding of separate trials. Rule 43 addresses the taking of testimony, which is to be taken in open court whenever possible. Rule 44 governs authentication of official records.

Rule 45 deals with subpoena
Subpoena
A subpoena is a writ by a government agency, most often a court, that has authority to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure. There are two common types of subpoena:...

s. A subpoena commands a person to give testimony, to produce documents for inspection and copying, or both. Although included in the Chapter headed "trials," subpoenas can also be used to obtain document production or depositions of non-parties to the litigation during the pre-trial discovery stage.

Rule 46 provides that formal "exceptions" to court rulings are no longer necessary so long as a sufficient record is made of the objecting party's position.

The next several rules govern jury trials. Rule 47 provides for the selection of jurors and rule 48 governs the number of jurors in a civil case. A civil jury must consist of between six and twelve jurors (six jurors are presently used in the vast majority of federal civil trials; juries of twelve are still required in federal criminal cases). Rule 49 provides for use of "special verdicts" in jury trials, under which the jury may be asked to respond to specific questions rather than just finding liability or non-liability and determining the amount of the damages, if any. Rule 50 addresses situations in which a case is so one-sided that the court may grant "judgment as a matter of law" taking the case from the jury. Rule 51 governs jury instructions.

Rule 52 provides procedure for the judge to hand down findings and conclusions following non-jury trials. Rule 53 governs masters, who are typically lawyers designated by the court to act as neutrals and assist the court in a case.

Chapter VII - Judgment


Rules 54 to 63.

Rule 56 deals with summary judgment
Summary judgment
In law, a summary judgment is a determination made by a court without a full trial. Such a judgment may be issued as to the merits of an entire case, or of specific issues in that case....

. It is considered the last gate-keeping function before trial, answering the question of whether the claim could even go to a jury. A successful summary judgment motion persuades the court there is no "genuine issue of material fact" and also that the moving party is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law
Judgment as a matter of law
Judgment as a matter of law is a motion made by a party, during trial, claiming the opposing party has insufficient evidence to reasonably support its case. JMOL is also known as a directed verdict, which it has replaced in American Federal courts.JMOL is similar to judgment on the pleadings and...

."

The moving party can show that the disputed factual issues are illusory, can show a lack of genuine issue by producing affidavits or can make a showing through discovery. The movant can point either to the other side's inadequacies or can affirmatively negate the claim.

The moving party has the burden of production; it has to come up with some evidence that there's no genuine issue of material fact. Then the burden shifts to the non-moving party, which has to show that the claim is adequate to let it get to the jury. The non-movant can submit affidavits, depositions, and other material.

The burden shifts again to the moving party, which must say that there’s still no genuine issue of material fact. A court grants summary judgment when there is no way the movant can lose at trial. When the moving party is the plaintiff, then it has to show that there's no way that a jury could find against it.

(A partial summary judgment usually pertains only to certain claims, not the whole case.)

Rule 50 also deals with judgments as a matter of law, however Rule 50 decisions take place after a jury has been empanelled. A motion under Rule 50(a) generally takes place immediately after the opposing party has finished presenting its case and must take place before the case is submitted to the jury. Importantly, to keep open the option of moving for a "judgment notwithstanding the verdict," or "judgment non obstante verdicto" after the jury has returned a verdict, one must file a Rule 50(a) motion. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the two are not separate motions, the JNOV motion is simply a renewed Rule 50(a) motion. A renewed 50(a) motion must be filed within 10 days of verdict entry.

Rule 50 also covers motions for a new trial. These motions can be granted, denied, conditionally granted, or conditionally denied. Conditional grants or denials cover what will happen if the case is reversed on appeal. For instance, a case that ends with a successfully renewed Rule 50(a) motion to overturn the jury verdict may also include a conditional grant of a new trial. If the losing party wins their appeal, the trial will start over again. A motion for a new trial is a Rule 59(a)(1) motion and is generally filed simultaneously and as an alternative to a renewal of a Rule 50(a) motion.

Chapter VIII - Provisional and Final Remedies


Rules 64 to 71.

This Chapter deals with remedies that may be granted by a federal court - both provisional remedies
Provisional remedy
The purpose of a provisional remedy is the preservation of the status quo until final disposition of a matter can occur.Under United States law, FRCP 64 provides with several types of seizure that a Federal Court may use pursuant to state law...

 that may be ordered while the action is pending as well as final relief that may be granted to the winning party at the end of the case.

Rule 64 is captioned "Seizure of Person or Property" and authorizes procedures such as Prejudgment attachment, replevin
Replevin
In creditors' rights law, replevin, sometimes known as "claim and delivery," is a legal remedy for a person to recover goods unlawfully withheld from his or her possession, by means of a special form of legal process in which a court may require a defendant to return specific goods to the...

, and garnishment
Garnishment
A garnishment is a means of collecting a monetary judgment against a defendant by ordering a third party to pay money, otherwise owed to the defendant, directly to the plaintiff...

. In general, these remedies may be awarded when they would be authorized under the law of the state in which the federal court is located - a rare instance in which the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, generally designed to promote uniformity of practice in the federal districts throughout the country, defer to state law.

Rule 65 governs the procedure on applications for preliminary injunction
Preliminary injunction
A preliminary injunction, in equity, is an injunction entered by a court prior to a final determination of the merits of a legal case, in order to restrain a party from going forward with a course of conduct or compelling a party to continue with a course of conduct until the case has been decided...

s and temporary restraining orders.

Rule 65.1 addresses security and suretyship issues arising when the court orders a party to deposit security such as a bond. Rule 66 deals with receivership
Receivership
In law, receivership is the situation in which an institution or enterprise is being held by a receiver, a person "placed in the custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights." The receivership remedy is an equitable remedy that emerged in...

. Rule 67 deals with funds deposited in court, such as in interpleader
Interpleader
Interpleader is a form of action originally developed under equity jurisprudence. It allows a plaintiff to initiate a lawsuit in order to compel two or more other parties to litigate a dispute. An interpleader action originates when the plaintiff holds property on behalf of another, but does not...

 actions. Rule 68 governs the offer of judgment
Offer of judgment
The Offer of Judgment rule is a tort reform law aimed at controlling unnecessary litigation and at encouraging settlement. Under this rule, if a settlement offer designated as an offer of judgment is made in civil litigation, the offer is rejected and the final court decision is less favorable...

 procedure under which a party may make a confidential offer of settlement in an action for money damages. Rules 69 and 70 deal with execution of judgments and orders directing a party to take a specific act. Rule 71 deals with the effect of judgments on persons who are not parties to the action.

Chapter IX - Special Proceedings


Rules 71A to 76.

Chapter IX presently deals with special types of litigation that may take place in the federal courts. A former version of Chapter IX, contained in the original Rules of Civil Procedure, dealt with appeals from a District Court to a United States Court of Appeals
United States court of appeals
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

. These rules were abrogated in 1967 when they were superseded by the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure are a set of rules, promulgated by the Supreme Court of the United States on recommendation of an advisory committee, to govern procedures in cases in the United States Courts of Appeals....

, a separate set of rules specifically governing the Courts of Appeals.

Rule 71A deals with procedure in condemnation actions.

Rule 72 sets forth procedures for matters before United States magistrate judge
United States magistrate judge
In the United States federal courts, magistrate judges are appointed to assist United States district court judges in the performance of their duties...

s, including both "dispositive" and "nondispositive" matters, and provides for review of the magistrate judge's decision by a District Judge. Rule 73 provides that Magistrate Judges may preside over certain trials consistent with statute and upon the consent of all parties.

(There are presently no rules numbered 74 to 76.)

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