How To Format A Complaint on the MPT
Examinees drafted complaint provisions in the July 2008 in Williams v. A-1 Automotive Center MPT. In this post, we continue our wildcard MPT series and we cover how to analyze and then format a complaint on the MPT!
How To Format A Complaint on the MPT
In the July 2008 Williams v A-1 Automotive Center MPT, students were told to draft a memo. They were told “For each statement that you determine to be actionable, draft a separate cause of action for fraud.” Examinees were also told to “Be sure to follow our firm’s drafting guidelines for causes of action.”
Whenever you see an unusual task, you generally receive extra instructions. And so you will probably see extra instructions if you are asked to draft complaint provisions on an MPT.
Indeed, in the July 2008 MPT, on the page following the task memo, there are instructions on how to plead a cause of action. Essentially, you need to draft the minimum allegations necessary to plead the required legal elements of the claim, and present them each in separately numbered paragraphs. For example, if you allege that the defendant committed negligence you want to state each element (duty, breach, cause, and harm) and show the specific facts that support each element. If you fail to state the elements, then you risk getting your complaint dismissed for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
On the actual July 2008 MPT, examinees were given an example of how to plead a negligence claim. If you were pleading a negligence claim, you would separate duty, breach, cause, and harm, into four separate paragraphs and support each element with specific facts. An example of how a negligence claim would be set it out is as follows:
1. When riding his bicycle downtown, Defendant owed the other pedestrians a duty to ride his bike as a reasonably prudent person would.
2. On January 5, 2018 at 6:00 PM, Defendant breached this duty when he began photographing himself and taking “selfies” while riding his bike at a high rate of speed.
3. As Defendant was breaching his duty, his bicycle struck Mr. Smith, who was a pedestrian lawfully walking along the sidewalk of ABC street.
4. As a result of the breach of duty, Mr. Smith suffered serious bodily injuries, including a broken clavicle and a broken wrist.
On the exam, to draft a complaint allegation, you want to look for two things:
- (1) specific elements (e.g. above, you see the four elements of negligence in a separate paragraph – duty is in paragraph 1, breach is in paragraph 2, cause is in paragraph 3, and harm is in paragraph 4)
- (2) specific facts to support each element (e.g., you can see the facts that support the allegation that the defendant had duty, facts that show exactly how he breached that duty, facts that show causation, and the exact harm caused)
Each paragraph (1., 2., 3., and 4., in the negligence example) should refer to a specific legal element. Each should then give specific factual support for that element. So you see that paragraph 1 alleges a duty and then states the facts that gave rise to the duty (i.e., he was riding his bike). Paragraph 2 alleges breach and states exactly how the defendant breached his duty (i.e., by taking selfies while riding his bike). The specific format you will use in drafting complaint provisions is as follows:
Cause of action:
- State element #1 and give factual support.
- State element #2 and give factual support
- State element #3 and give factual support
- State element #4 and give factual support.
(Continue as necessary)
If you want to try writing a complaint on the MPT, check out the Williams v. A-1 Automotive Center MPT here!
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