This post is the second in a seven-part series written to explain how dilatory pleas are used in answering a lawsuit. Other topics in this series are listed below.
Post 1: The Basics of Drafting an Answer
Post 2: Dilatory Pleas
Post 3: Special Exceptions
Post 4: The General Denial
Post 5: Verified Denials
Post 6: Affirmative Defenses
Post 7: Counterclaims, Cross Claims, and Third-Party Claims
A defendant may object to a lawsuit based on its merits which include the facts and evidence at issue. In addition, defendants may make a dilatory plea, one that delays or ends the action based on procedural issues. For example, a plea in suspension provides information which warrants a pause of the proceedings, while a plea in abatement objects to the place or manner of the lawsuit. A challenge to jurisdiction occurs when a defendant challenges the court’s authority to hear the issues raised by the plaintiff. Several other options for dilatory pleas exist as well, including service issues and questioning the defendant’s or plaintiff’s capacity.
Many dilatory pleas must be made early when preparing an answer to align and comply with the “due order of pleading” rule, which states that certain defenses can be raised only during the plaintiff’s initial answer, motion, or filing with the court. Tex. Jur. 3d. Due Order of Pleading §152. Failure to plead certain pleas in Texas may cause a defendant to forever waive those defenses or rights and/or cause adverse consequences throughout the litigation.
Fully understanding dilatory pleas requires someone familiar with all the complexities of litigation. A lawyer with such expertise will correctly use dilatory pleas to help a defendant successfully defend against unfounded allegations.
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