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Massachusetts Civil Procedure Rule 10: Form of Pleadings

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(a) Caption; Names of Parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the county, the title of the action, the docket number, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

(b) Paragraphs; Separate Statements. All averments of claim or defense shall be made in numbered paragraphs, the contents of each of which shall be limited as far as practicable to a statement of a single set of circumstances; and a paragraph may be referred to by number in all succeeding pleadings. Each claim founded upon a separate transaction or occurrence and each defense other than denials shall be stated in a separate count or defense whenever a separation facilitates the clear presentation of the matters set forth.

(c) Adoption by Reference; Exhibits. Statements in a pleading may be adopted by reference in a different part of the same pleading or in another pleading or in any motion. A copy of any written instrument which is an exhibit to a pleading is a part thereof for all purposes.

(d) Parties' Residence or Place of Business. The complaint, and any subsequent pleading stating a claim against a person not originally a party to the action, shall state the respective residences or usual places of business of the party stating a claim and of each person against whom a claim is stated, if known to the pleader; if unknown, the complaint or pleading shall so state.

(e) Two-Sided Documents. The text of any document may appear on both sides of the page.

Amended December 14, 1976, effective January 1, 1977; March 5, 2010, effective May 1, 2010.

Reporter's Notes (2010). Rule 10(e) was added in 2010 to recognize the existing practice by which some attorneys include text on both the front and back of a page. The language of Rule 10(e) is similar to a 1999 amendment to Appellate Rule 20(a)(4) regarding briefs and other documents filed in the appellate courts.

Although the two-sided document language has been added to Rule 10, which governs the form of pleadings, the provisions of Rule 10, including the two-sided document language, are also applicable to motions and other papers filed under the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure. See Rule 7(b)(2).

(1973) Rule 10(a) works no substantial change in Massachusetts practice except for requiring that the county be stated in the caption, and that "file" be changed to "docket."

Prior law required that actions be divided into "divisions of personal actions," viz. contract, tort, and replevin. See G.L. c. 231, § 1. Causes of action for tort and contract could be joined in a single declaration, provided they derived from the same subject matter, G.L. c. 231, § 7. By statute, a declaration could "contain any number of counts for different causes of action in the same division of action." See G.L. c. 231, § 7. The word "count" in Massachusetts thus signified a statement of a complete and independent cause of action.

Rule 10(b) changes prior law. The word "count" no longer carries any talismanic significance. Under Rule 10 the pleader must utilize an additional count only when such use will facilitate clear exposition of the contents of the pleadings. Further, the concept of division of actions is no longer relevant. By Rule 8(e)(2), the pleader is entitled to state "as many separate claims . . . as he has regardless of consistency and whether based on legal or equitable grounds."

Rule 10(c) aims to reduce the size of pleadings. Incorporating other parts of the pleading by reference will eliminate the need for repetition. Making a copy of a written instrument annexed to a pleading a part of the pleading for all purposes will likewise simplify proceedings. It should be noted that Rule 10(c) does not purport to require that any document be made part of any particular pleading. The option remains with the pleader, as it did under earlier law, G.L. c. 231, § 7, G.L. c. 231, § 147 (10), whether (1) to annex a copy of the document to the pleading; or (2) merely to rely on appropriate stating language in the body of the pleading.

Rule 10(c) abrogates that portion of G.L. c. 231, § 7 which permitted the court, upon motion of the defendant, to require the plaintiff to set out a copy of the original of the contract sued on. The net effect, however, will be the same. A defendant may, under appropriate discovery provisions, compel production by the plaintiff of the contract (or a copy); by deposition or interrogatories, he may, if the instrument is lost or destroyed, discover the particulars of the loss or destruction.

Actions on promissory notes or accounts will continue in substantially the present form. The approved forms for such actions generally follow prior Massachusetts practice. The note or account is either set out in the complaint or annexed thereto as an exhibit (and incorporated by reference), see Forms 3 and 4.