This post is the third in a seven-part series written to explain special exceptions and how they are used in answering a lawsuit in Texas. 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, Crossclaims, and Third-Party Claims
A defendant uses special exceptions to point out weaknesses in the plaintiff’s claim, providing an opportunity for the plaintiff to correct the problem if possible. Special exceptions should be filed with the answer or shortly afterward. Each exception is presented to the judge in writing. It should cite the objectionable paragraph by number, explaining exactly what is missing, incorrect, or unclear. It is important to note that special exceptions are not a tool that wins or loses a case for a defendant. The purpose of specially excepting to a plaintiff’s petition is to allow the plaintiff to correct defects in his or her pleading and/or to allow the plaintiff to clarify allegations.
A special exception also includes a request to either drop the allegation or correct the petition within a reasonable time, as outlined in Tex. R. Civ. P. 90. While a defendant can object to several allegations within the claim, making a blanket objection to an entire claim, also known as a general demurrer, is not advisable or standard.
Understanding special exceptions requires a lawyer familiar with the complexities of litigation. An attorney with such expertise will appropriately plead the correct special exceptions to help the defendant successfully protect against sloppy petitions filed by a plaintiff.
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