What Are Some Guidelines for a Summons Response Letter?

The guidelines for a summons response letter include answering it with an admission, a denial or denial of sufficient information upon which to form a belief, according to the National Paralegal College. Responses may also incorporate legal defenses offered in reply to the plaintiffs complaint. These defenses take the form of either affirmative or Rule 12b defenses.

Affirmative defenses in a summons response letter are ones that place the burden of proof on the defendant, as the National Paralegal College explains, and some examples of these defenses include the previous settling of the case, the ending of the statute of limitations or being the victim of fraud. Fraud occurs when a party intentionally misrepresents or conceals important facts, as The Free Dictionary notes. When the plaintiff takes longer than the legally allotted time to issue the summons, a statute of limitations defense applies, as described by the National Paralegal College, and if the issues raised in the summons have already been resolved, then a previous settlement defense fits.

Rule 12b defenses are ones that the plaintiff must disprove, as the National Paralegal College details. These defenses include a lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, the failure to state a claim and the failure to join a necessary party to the lawsuit. If the response successfully establishes one of these defenses, the plaintiff's complaint may be either partially or entirely dismissed. The main guideline for a response to a summons is that it should be a concise statement that focuses on the appropriate defense.