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Filing A Summons and Complaint

INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING AND FILING A COMPLAINT

To download a summons and complaint form scroll to the bottom of this page.
 

Commencing a lawsuit without the assistance of an attorney can be difficult. Court staff cannot take the place of an attorney or give you legal advice.  If you choose to proceed without an attorney, you must understand that you will be held to the same standards as an attorney in following procedural rules and meeting statutory requirements.  You may wish to consult the resources and materials available at the Ramsey County Law Library located on the 18th floor of the Ramsey County Courthouse, 15 West Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102. 

To start a lawsuit and sue someone, you must complete, serve and file a summons and complaint. These papers are called the pleadings.  They are the first papers filed with the court to start the lawsuit.  These papers tell the Court what happened and explain what relief you are requesting the Court to give you.  You are called the plaintiff(s).  The person(s) that you are suing is called the defendant(s).

You will usually sue the defendant in the county where he/she/they reside, however, this may change depending on the circumstances of each case.  Jurisdiction can be complicated and because each case is unique, you may wish to consult an attorney.  Court personnel cannot give you legal advice as to where you must sue the defendant.

The first part of the summons and complaint called the caption must list the full name(s) of the party(ies).  Do not use initials or titles such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc.  If you are suing a company or corporation (business entity) you must list the name correctly.  You may wish to contact the Secretary of State at 651-296-2803 or on-line at Direct.Access@State.Mn.Us to verify the type of business entity and to get the correct name.  The names of the parties are important.  If you have the wrong name you may not be able to collect your judgment even if you do win in court.  The summons must be signed.

The complaint states your claim against the opposing party and the relief you are requesting.  The complaint should answer the following questions:

·       What happened?

·       Where did it happen?

·       When did it happen?

·       How were you damaged?

·       What relief do you want the court to give you?

You must state a claim upon which the Court may grant relief.  You should set this information out in numbered paragraphs in the complaint using plain language and being as specific as possible.  You must be careful to include all your information and requests for relief.  It is important that you follow all statutory requirements and procedural rules.  Once the complaint is answered by the opposing party you will not be able to make changes without special permission from the court.

You must sign the complaint and also the verification in front of a notary public or a court clerk.  By signing the verification you swear to the Court that your lawsuit is being brought in good faith and not to harass the other party.

When the complaint is completed, you must have a copy of the complaint and the summons served upon the defendant(s).  If there is more than one defendant, each defendant must be served.  An independent third party who has no interest in the proceedings, is not a party to the lawsuit and is over the age of 18 must serve the Summons and Complaint.  The papers must be handed directly to the party(ies) or maybe left with a person of suitable age and discretion who lives with the defendant, usually a spouse, parent or roommate.   This is called personal service. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, there may be other methods of service.  You may wish to consult an attorney or the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure regarding methods of service.  The person who serves the papers must fill out and file an affidavit of service with the Court.   This form is available from the Civil Division at Room 600, Ramsey County Courthouse, 15 West Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102.

After you have served a copy of the summons and complaint on the Defendant(s), you must file the original summons and complaint and the affidavit of service with the Civil Division of the District Court.  The filing fee, currently $327.00, must be paid at the time of filing. Once your case is filed, it will be assigned to a Judge.  You will receive notices from the Assignment Division regarding scheduling deadlines, hearing dates and required documents. Meeting these requirements is your responsibility.   Representing yourself and not having an attorney will not be an excuse for failure to meet deadlines, file documents or appear in Court. 

If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may apply for a waiver of the filing fee based upon your financial circumstances.  These forms are available at the Civil Division.  The court administrator will review your application and forward it to a judge.  The judge will determine if you qualify.

download summons form

download complaint form

download affidavit of service