Commencing a lawsuit in Connecticut is governed by the Connecticut rules of civil procedure. A lawsuit begins with the filing of mesne process. These forms identify the parties to the action, the court in which the action is filed and the time in which the return process must be set up. In addition, the plaintiff must file a pleading, otherwise known as a complaint. Filing is completed at the courthouse the plaintiff chooses for his action. After filing, the plaintiff is responsible for ensuring all documents are properly served upon the defendant.
Fill out a writ of summons. Rule 8-1 dictates that all civil lawsuits must include "mesne process" in the form of a writ of summons or attachment. The writ of summons is required to ensure each defendant is on proper notice of the pending lawsuit. The writ must clearly explain that the defendant is being sued and must enter an appearance before the return date, which must also be displayed on the writ. The Connecticut judiciary supplies litigants with a pre-formatted form which, when properly filled out, meets the requirements of Rule 8-1.
Draft a pleading. In addition to the writ of summons, the plaintiff must file an official pleading detailing the aspects and legal arguments the plaintiff is raising. The pleading must set forth the plaintiff's allegations in plain and concise statements. The pleading may not include any misleading or fraudulent allegations or factual contentions.
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Personally deliver the writ of summons and complaint to the court clerk's office. Every plaintiff must decide within which court to file a lawsuit. For cases worth an amount under $2,500, the plaintiff must utilize the small claims court. For cases worth $2,500 or more, the plaintiff should file in Superior Court. After handing the summons and complaint to the clerk, she will sign the original and return it to the plaintiff.
If a plaintiff is suing a defendant who is a resident of another state or country, he may file his lawsuit in the federal district court in Connecticut. A lawsuit filed in federal court must be worth in excess of $75,000.
Arrange for service of process. After the clerk has signed the original documents and returned them to the plaintiff, he must pass the documents along to a certified state marshal for delivery of the documents to the defendants. Connecticut law requires proper service of process either upon the defendant himself or to a competent, adult member of his primary dwelling. Once the marshal has served the documents, the defendants are required to fill out a form, supplied by the marshal, attesting that they received the summons and complaint.
Pay required fees to file a lawsuit. A civil cause of $2,500 or more requires a $300 filing fee. A civil cause less than $2,500 requires a $175 fee. For litigants facing difficulty paying court filing fees, an application for waiver of fees is available. Applicants can apply for a waiver of entry fees, filing fees and service of process fees from this form. The form requires applicants to supply detailed income information. Once the form is submitted, a hearing will be held to determine whether the applicant's request is granted.
- Connecticut Judiciary; Practice Book; Connecticut Secretary of State; 1998
- Connecticut Judiciary; Civil Summons; Superior Court; June 2011
- Connecticut Judiciary; Filing a Civil Lawsuit; 2011
- Connecticut Judiciary; State Marshals; Judicial Branch; 2011
- Connecticut Judiciary; Court Fees and Forms; Judicial Branch; 2011
- Connecticut Judiciary; Application for Waiver of Fees; November 2010
Stephanie Reid has been writing professionally since 2007, with work published in the Virginia Bar Association's "Family Law Quarterly" and the "Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy." She received her Juris Doctor from Regent University and her Bachelor of Arts in French and child development from Florida State University. Reid is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Maryland.