A motion to dismiss is a pretrial motion that can be filed in certain cases. Every state has different civil procedure rules that govern motions to dismiss and other motions. For instance, in the state of California, a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is called a demurrer. The title may be different in other states.

Basically, a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is a court document stating that the plaintiff has not listed a satisfactory cause of action in their complaint. Courts may dismiss a case for failure to state a claim for a few main reasons:

  • To prevent the filing of frivolous lawsuits, and therefore, abuses of the legal system
  • To identify cases that can be terminated before they start, in order to help the parties and the court save time and resources

What Are the Requirements for Failure to State a Claim?

Failure to state a claim is often raised as a sort of a defense to the plaintiff’s complaint. If the pretrial motion is granted, the case will basically be dismissed. In order to grant the motion, the court must find that the plaintiff’s complaint does not actually constitute a legal claim. Examples of this include:

  • The plaintiff is alleging conduct that does not amount to a violation of law
  • The plaintiff has failed to list all of the elements of proof for the violation
  • No measurable injury has actually been indicated in the complaint

A common example of failure to state a claim is in a personal injury claim based on negligence. For instance, negligence requires that the defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff. If the defendant did not actually owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, then the court might find a failure to state a claim and immediately dismiss the case.

An example of this is where the plaintiff tries to sue the defendant for failing to help them repair their car, where the defendant was under no contractual obligation to do so.

In cases where the failure to state a claim is based on a technical aspect, the court will sometimes allow the plaintiff to amend their complaint, rather than dismiss the claim altogether.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Pretrial Motions?

Injury lawsuits can often involve very technical details and procedural rules. It’s in your best interests to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer if you need help filing a lawsuit due to a personal injury. Your attorney can help you file your claim and can assist you in obtaining the appropriate remedy. Also, your lawyer will be able to help when it comes to rules of civil procedure such as motions and other pretrial issues.