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(a) Claims for Relief. A pleading which sets forth a cause of action, whether an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, shall contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds including facts and statutes upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, unless the court already has jurisdiction to support it, (2) a short and plain statement of the facts showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and (3) a prayer or demand for judgment for the relief to which he deems himself entitled. Relief in the alternative or of several different types may be demanded. Relief for a sum certain in money may be demanded for actual damages, but claims for punitive or exemplary damages shall be in general terms only and not for a stated sum, provided however, a party may plead that the total amount in controversy shall not exceed a stated sum which shall limit the claim for all purposes.


This Rule 8(a) is in the same general language as the Federal Rule with the important distinction that the State practice requiring pleading of the facts (rather than a "statement of the claim") is retained. The prayer or demand for relief is also designated as a part of the pleading to finally eliminate confusion on that point. Liberal rules as to amendment throughout (i.e., Rule 15) enable the parties to conform the pleadings to the facts and relief demanded, as they develop. See Rule 54(c). The final sentence is added to eliminate prayers for exaggerated and sensational claims for damages.

Note to 1986 Amendment:

Rule 8(a) is amended because the amount in controversy may determine the jurisdiction of the State and Federal courts, as well as the methods of discovery available in State courts. As originally adopted a general plea seeking punitive damages placed no limit on the amount sought and could expand the scope of the case unduly. This amendment avoids an exaggerated interpretation of a claim for punitive damages and permits the pleader to keep the case proportionate to the actual injury suffered.

(b) Defenses; Form of Denials. A party shall state in short and plain terms the facts constituting his defenses to each cause of action asserted and shall admit or deny the averments upon which the adverse party relies. If he is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of an averment, he shall so state and this has the effect of a denial. Denials shall fairly meet the substance of the averments denied. When a pleader intends in good faith to deny only a part or a qualification of an averment, he shall specify so much of it as is true and material and shall deny only the remainder. Unless the pleader intends in good faith to controvert all the averments of the preceding pleading, he may make his denials as specific denials of designated averments or paragraphs, or he may generally deny all the averments except such designated averments or paragraphs as he expressly admits; but, when he does so intend to controvert all its averments, including averments of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, he may do so by general denial subject to the obligations set forth in Rule 11.


This Rule 8(b) is the same as the Federal Rule. It abolishes the "general denial" unless the pleader can controvert every allegation of the complaint, including the jurisdictional allegations. Every allegation must be specifically admitted or denied. Failure to deny constitutes admission. An answer neither admitting nor denying but "demanding proof thereof" is insufficient. The pleader must deny in good faith all parts of an averment not admitted.

Note to 1986 Amendment:

Rule 8(b) is amended to make clear that fact pleading is required for both the complaint and answer.

(c) Affirmative Defenses; Reply. In pleading to a preceding pleading, a party shall set forth affirmatively the defenses: accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, assumption of risk, condonation, contributory negligence, discharge in bankruptcy, duress, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, misrepresentation, mistake, payment, plene administravit or the administration of the estate is closed, recrimination, release, res judicata, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, waiver, and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense. When a party has mistakenly designated a defense as a counterclaim or a counterclaim as a defense, the court shall treat the pleading as if there had been a proper designation. A party may file a reply to any of the foregoing affirmative defenses.


This Rule 8(c) is the same as the Federal Rule except for some affirmative defenses added to the list as a guide. The aim is to avoid the "surprise" defenses permissible under the old general denial answer, and require the defendant also to stick to "fact" pleading. The last sentence permits a fact pleading reply to all affirmative defenses. This reinforces the intent to fix the facts by the pleadings, an important departure from the Federal Rules approach to pleadings.

Note to 1986 Amendment:

The affirmative defenses of condonation and recrimination are added to Rule 8(c) because they are often asserted in pleadings in Family Courts.

Note to 1995 Amendment:

Rule 8(c) is amended to add the affirmative defense of duress to conform the rule to the comparable federal rule. The amendment does not change substantive or procedural law because duress is recognized as an affirmative defense, and the concluding clause of the first sentence requires it to be asserted as a matter of avoidance.

(d) Effect of Failure to Deny. Averments in a pleading to which a responsive pleading is required, other than those as to the amount of damage, are admitted when not denied in the responsive pleading. Averments in a pleading to which no responsive pleading is required or permitted shall be taken as denied or avoided.


This Rule 8(d) is simply a restatement of Code § 15-13-80.

(e) Pleading to Be Concise and Direct; Consistency.

(1) Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct. No technical forms of pleading or motions are required.

(2) A party may set forth two or more statements of a cause of action or defense alternatively or hypothetically, either in one count or defense or in separate counts or defenses. When two or more statements are made in the alternative and one of them if made independently would be sufficient, the pleading is not made insufficient by the insufficiency of one or more of the alternative statements. A party may also state as many separate causes of action or defenses as he has regardless of consistency and whether based on legal or on equitable grounds or on both. All statements shall be made subject to the obligations set forth in Rule 11.

(f) Construction of Pleadings. All pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice to all parties.


These Rules 8(e) and 8(f) substantially restate Code §§ 15-15-40 and 15-13-20, and are no change to State practice. This Rule does not allow "jumbling" of two or more causes of action in one count.