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Can a FRCP Rule 11 Motion suffice as a "responsive pleading," or do you have to either (1) answer the complaint; or (2) file a rule 12 motion, to meet the responsive pleading deadline, and then later file a Rule 11 Motion.

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  • Keeping in mind that a Rule 11 motion can't be filed until 21 days after its served - to provide time to cure (11(c)(2)) - it seems like number 2 could work. Edit to clarify - the Rule 11 motion couldn't be filed on time to satisfy the 21 day answer requirement so I don't see how it could stand as a responsive pleading.
    – jqning
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 2:41

2 Answers 2

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The definition of a "pleading", at F.R.Civ.P. 7(a), distinguishes "pleadings" from "motions", the latter of which are defined in Rule 7(b). Therefore, a "motion" is not a "pleading", and thus filing a "motion" other than one raising a Rule 12(b) "defense" does not satisfy the Rule 12(a) requirement of the filing of a "responsive pleading". I have seen federal judges misuse the term "pleadings".

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No.

You must file either an Answer or a Motion to Dismiss. If the Court were feeling lenient, it might determine that your Rule 11 motion was in effect a Motion to Dismiss, but assuming that the Court would be lenient in that manner would be unwise. You need to file an Answer or a Motion to Dismiss, and then a Rule 11 motion.

Also, filing a Rule 11 motion is usually unwise right at the outset of a lawsuit absent some extremely remarkable circumstances, particularly if you are representing yourself. I would strongly caution against doing so.

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