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May 15, 2023

Verified Complaints vs. Unverified Denials: The Dangerous Game of Civil Litigation in New York State

Verified Complaints vs. Unverified Denials: The Dangerous Game of Civil Litigation in New York State

In New York State practice under the CPLR, answering a verified complaint with an unverified general denial can have serious consequences for the defendant.

An unverified answer that fails to comply with CPLR 3018(b) can be stricken as a nullity, as the requirement of verification is designed to ensure allegations are made under oath and subject to the penalties of perjury.

CPLR 3018(d) requires that each material allegation of the complaint be specifically denied or admitted, and failure to do so may result in the allegations being deemed admitted.

A general denial that fails to effectively put the plaintiff's claims in issue is insufficient to contest the plaintiff's allegations.

The defendant may face potential consequences even if the unverified general denial is not stricken as a nullity and the material allegations in the complaint are not deemed admitted.

The court may impose sanctions on the defendant for failing to comply with CPLR 3018(b) and/or CPLR 3018(d).

The defendant may be precluded from asserting certain affirmative defenses or counterclaims.

"Answering a verified complaint with an unverified general denial is a mistake that can have serious consequences for the defendant. It's essential that defendants take care to comply with the requirements of CPLR 3018(b) and 3018(d) when answering a verified complaint," says Jacqueline Weiss, Esq, a commercial litigation attorney at Manhattan law firm Pardalis & Nohavicka.

Defendants should consider seeking the advice of an experienced attorney to help them navigate the complexities of New York State practice under the CPLR.

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