Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules that should be followed by Massachusetts state courts. The rules govern civil actions. The rules are promulgated for the smooth and efficient functioning of state courts. In Massachusetts a civil action commences with the filing of a complaint. A complaint is filed by mailing the complaint with entry fee to the court clerk. A party who commences the action is called the plaintiff, and the opposite party is called the defendant. A civil action can be classified into various stages that include: pleading stage, discovery stage, trial stage, and judgment stage. According to Rule 4, once a complaint is filed, the court clerk will issue the required summons to the defendant(s).
Different types of pleadings in Massachusetts courts are: complaint, answer to complaint, counter claim, reply to counterclaim, cross claim, reply to cross claim, third party complaint and third party answer. Generally the complaint should be filed by the real party in interest except in actions brought under General Laws, chapter 152, section 15. An infant or incompetent person or an incapacitated person defined in G.L. c.190B may be represented by a guardian, conservator, or fiduciary. The representative can sue or defend on behalf of the infant or incompetent person, or incapacitated person. If an infant or incompetent person or an incapacitated person does not have an authorized representative, s/he may sue by his/her next friend or by a guardian ad litem. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for an infant or incompetent person, or an incapacitated person for their protection.
Parties may obtain discovery by depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission.
At the trial stage, a party can demand a trial by jury on any issue. The demand must be in writing to the other parties at any time after the commencement of the action within 10 days after the service of the last pleading. A judgment is passed after trial. Generally cost of litigation is adjudged to the prevailing party.