The Complaint

AuthorDaniel D. Quick
The complaint is a tool. There are certain baseline requirements for the tool,
spelled out in the rules of civil procedure or court rules, eshed out by case
law. Beyond these required elements, the shape, contours, and tenor of the
complaint are determined by strategic considerations. While every now
and then lawyers get tripped up on the formalities, the artistry of crafting
a complaint to achieve strategic goals presents a career-long arc for rene-
ment and polishing.
Thus, the strategic purpose of the lawsuit must rst be dened and consid-
ered before one can craft a pleading to fulll that goal. Within the question
of “why are you suing?” lie several distinct questions: (1) What wrong has
occurred for which your client seeks redress? (2) Can redress be achieved
through litigation? and (3) Is seeking redress through litigation the optimal
and desired strategy for your client?
Starting with the harm that has befallen your client often helps clarify
strategic goals. Is the harm more to one’s ego than to one’s true interests? Is
the litigation being pursued not so much for harm done but rather ulterior
business motives? Of course, consideration of the harm inevitably leads to
consideration of the causes of action implicated by the wrongful conduct,
but by focusing upon the harm, oftentimes clarity is achieved on all that
follows—both what claims are pled as well as how the case is litigated.
For example, a jilted minority shareholder will convey his or her reaction
to and harm caused by being squeezed out in layman’s terms; it is for the
The Complaint
Daniel D. Quick
Nelson_BizTorts_20140514_15-35 Confirmation Pass.indd 37 8/12/14 10:25 AM

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