I've got a question about the complaint/answer process in the context of Maryland regarding a Trust. (Names changed for privacy)

The complaint included as a numbered averment:

  1. The Trust instrument, at the first article, paragraph B, also states that “Grantor and others may add other property to the Trust from time to time.” Defendant Doe in the Trust’s accounting statements incorrectly states that all financial assets previously owned by Grantor were transferred to and are now owned by the Trust. Notwithstanding the representations made in Defendant Doe’s accounting statements, she never transferred to the Trust Grantor's investment and retirement accounts with a value of approximately $$$,$$$.00.

In the answer from Defendant, this appeared:

  1. Defendant responds to the allegations set forth in paragraph 19 of the Complaint by stating that the document speaks for itself.

How is this answer supposed to be interpreted? I.E. is it an effectively an admission?

Supplemental Details

In the context, MD Rule 2-323. ANSWER seems to control. The reason I suspect it may be effectively an admission is in paragraph (e), which addresses the effect of a Failure to Deny.

  • I would interpret that as nolo contendere - read the document and decide for yourself if I am in violation or not. But I am not a judge.
    – Philipp
    Dec 14, 2018 at 11:32
  • Thanks Philipp. Note the supplemental detail I've added. Dec 15, 2018 at 0:03
  • To what document does "the document" refer? Is it clear from the context?
    – phoog
    Dec 15, 2018 at 1:36
  • 1
    No, it's not clear to me. Referring to the Trust instrument might be possible, but then it seems like it's intentionally evading the allegation about inaccurate accountings, which are themselves documents. Dec 15, 2018 at 1:39

1 Answer 1


Interpretation of “the document speaks for itself” in answer to a complaint?

is it an effectively an admission?

Not necessarily, although it does seem odd to answer in those terms an assertion that, in addition to quoting a document, attributes to the defendant specific omissions.

The responsive pleading may be an odd way of positing that the excerpt in paragraph 19 of the complaint differs from the actual terms of the instrument. It could also be intended to convey that the citation of the excerpt is pointless and inconsequential.

  • First, thanks for your answer. I've added supplemental detail to my question to explain my reasoning for suspecting it is effectively a admission under the court rules of Maryland. Dec 15, 2018 at 0:01
  • My point is that the defendant might elude the effects of item (e) of that rule on the premise or allegation that the excerpt or language of the instrument is inconsequential to the claims brought against him. Filing incomplete, flawed, or ambiguous responsive pleadings is risky and sounds in legal malpractice, although I have seen many instances of attorneys' incompetence/inconsistencies and upon which the judge blatantly turns a blind eye nonetheless. Dec 15, 2018 at 0:50
  • I see you thinking. For a Trustee, filing inaccurate accountings is a breach of duty, a pretty serious accusation. Dec 15, 2018 at 0:51

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