The Montana Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules that should be followed by district courts in civil actions. The rules are promulgated for the smooth and efficient functioning of courts. In Montana a civil action commences with the filing of a complaint. A party who commences the action is called the plaintiff, and the opposite party is called the defendant. According to Rule 4C, once a complaint is filed, the plaintiff will present a summons to the court clerk. If the summons is proper, the court clerk will endorse the summons and deliver it to the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney.
A civil action can be classified into various stages that include: pleading stage, discovery stage, trial stage, and judgment stage. Different types of pleadings in Montana courts include: Complaint, Answer to Complaint, Counter claim, Reply to counterclaim, Cross claim, Answer to cross claim, Third party complaint and Third party answer. A complaint should be filed by a real party in interest. If the real party in interest is an infant or incompetent person, the person’s representative should file the complaint. If an infant or incompetent person does not have a representative, s/he may file the action through a next friend or a guardian ad litem. If required, courts may appoint a guardian ad litem in cases where the infant or incompetent person is not properly represented.
Parties my obtain discovery by:
- oral examination or written questions;
- written interrogatories;
- requests for admission;
- request for production of documents or other information;
- request for permission to enter into land or other property for inspection or other purpose; and/or
- physical and mental examinations.
Montana provides for both trial by jury and trial by court without jury. At the trial stage, a party may demand trial by jury as a right. Issues involved in a case not tried by jury will be tried by court without jury. A judgment is passed after trial. The judgment may include a decree and any order upon which an appeal is permissible. Mostly, cost of litigation is adjudged to the prevailing party.