Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules that should be followed by Tennessee state courts. The rules govern civil actions. The rules are promulgated to secure just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action in state courts. In Tennessee 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. 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 Tennessee courts are comprised of the following: complaint, answer to complaint, counter claim, reply 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. 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. The courts, if found necessary will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the minor or incompetent person.
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 may demand for trial by jury. A judgment is passed after trial. The judgment may include a decree or an order upon which an appeal is permissible. Generally, cost of litigation is adjudged to the prevailing party.