When filing a lawsuit in California, the original complaint may be either verified or unverified. If it is verified, the plaintiff makes assertions under the pains and penalties of perjury. A verified complaint also forces the defendant to respond to the lawsuit with a verified answer. This tactic forces the defendant to immediately make statements about the allegations under oath. There are strategic reasons to use – and not use – a verified complaint when filing a business lawsuit in California. Learn more about this litigation tactic so you can ask your litigator if it is right for your case.
Pros and Cons
As with anything in life, there are pros and cons to using a verified complaint. As discussed, the most pressing pro is that it forces the defendant to submit a verified answer. These statements can be disproven in litigation – which means your attorney can ask for the defendant to be penalized for lying under oath. You might be awarded attorney’s fees or discovery sanctions for the perjured evidence. At trial, the defendant will be made to look like a witness who is not credible to the jury. By starting your lawsuit with a strong hand, you can have more control over the direction that discovery takes throughout the case.
Of course, there are also cons to using a verified complaint. Remember, at the time you file a complaint, you have not yet engaged in discovery. You do not yet have all the facts about your legal claims. If you make statements under oath before your attorney has the chance to fully investigate your case, you, too, could be inadvertently guilty of perjury. Your attorney will be limited in how the complaint is written. Instead of including every fact you believe you will be able to prove, you will only be able to include facts that you currently know to be true. This often means that the defendant’s most egregious conduct cannot be detailed in the complaint. This can start your case off on the wrong foot entirely and make your case appear weaker than it actually is.
How To Use a Verified Complaint Strategically
So when is it a good strategy to use a verified complaint in litigation? This is a simple cost-benefit analysis. If you already have evidence of your claims, there is little cost to using a verified complaint because you can make it very detailed. The benefit of forcing a verified answer will often outweigh that cost – especially if the benefit is an almost certain lie the defendant will make in a verified answer. On the other hand, if you do not yet have evidence of all your allegations, the cost of using a verified complaint can be significant. It could hurt your case greatly for the minor benefit of possibly catching the defendant in a lie.
The Right California Business Lawyers For All Corporate Lawsuits
The experienced California business litigators at Structure Law Group know the litigation strategy that is best for your particular case. Call Structure Law Group at (408) 441-7500 or contact us through our website to schedule a consultation.