Rhode Island Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules that should be followed by Rhode Island state courts. The rules govern civil actions. These rules are promulgated to secure just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.
In Rhode Island a civil action commences (1) by filing a complaint with the court along with the entry fee prescribed by law, or (2) by depositing the complaint with entry fee in the mail addressed to the clerk, or (3) by delivery of a summons and complaint to an officer for service. 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).
Pleadings in Rhode Island courts include: complaint, answer to complaint, counter claim, answer to counterclaim, cross claim, answer to cross claim, third party complaint and answer to third party complaint. A complaint should be filed by the real party in interest. An infant or incompetent person may be represented by a guardian, conservator, or fiduciary. The representative can sue or defend on behalf of the infant or incompetent person. If an infant or incompetent person does not have any 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 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.
At the trial stage, a party may demand for trial by jury. A judgment is passed after trial. Generally, cost of litigation is adjudged to the prevailing party.