Ultimate Facts

Ultimate Facts

Information essential to a plaintiff's right of action or a defendant's assertion of a defense.

The concept of ultimate facts used to be an essential part of preparing a Pleading in a civil action. Until the late 1930s, the rules of Civil Procedure in federal and state courts required parties to plead on the basis of a statement of facts constituting the Cause of Action or defense. These ultimate facts alleged the sub-stance of the cause of action and were distinguished from evidentiary facts, which concerned the particular events of the case, and conclusions of law. The highly technical distinctions among ultimate facts, evidentiary facts, and conclusions of law created great confusion and often led to the dismissal of cases based on a pleading mistake.

The development of these distinctions can be traced to the 1848 New York Code of Civil Procedure, which was largely drafted by David Dudley Field. During the next few decades, most of the states, except those on the East Coast, adopted what came to be known as the Field Code. The Field Code was a significant improvement over common-law systems of procedure. However, the code required that the complaint contain "a plain and concise statement of the facts constituting plaintiff's cause of action," and used the pleading as a way of narrowing and defining the dispute rather than as a general means of initiating a civil action.

Over time, however, Code Pleading became very technical and required the pleader to set forth the facts underlying and demonstrating the existence of the cause of action. The pleading of ultimate facts was necessary, while the inclusion of evidentiary facts and conclusions of law was improper. Judges and attorneys found it difficult, if not impossible, to draw meaningful and consistent distinctions among these three terms. With no clear dividing line between a fact that demonstrated a cause of action and one that introduced specific evidence, courts made formal and often Arbitrary decisions that were unrelated to the merits of the case. Courts demanded a high degree of specificity and bound the parties to prove the ultimate facts alleged or lose the lawsuit. This requirement was particularly harsh because it forced a party to allege detailed facts early in the case when there was still uncertainty over what facts had occurred.By the 1930s legal commentators agreed that the need to plead ultimate facts was hindering the cause of justice. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which were adopted in 1938, eliminated the ultimate fact requirement and changed the philosophy behind the plaintiff's complaint and the defendant's answer. In place of ultimate facts, rule 8 (a) provides that the complaint shall contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Likewise, the defendant "shall state in short and plain terms" the defenses to the plaintiff's complaint. The rules do not require that only facts be alleged. Most states have adopted the federal rules in whole or in part, and the need to state ultimate facts in a pleading is no longer of great importance.

References in classic literature ?
This great seer did not go beyond the consideration of the tissues as ultimate facts in the living organism, marking the limit of anatomical analysis; but it was open to another mind to say, have not these structures some common basis from which they have all started, as your sarsnet, gauze, net, satin, and velvet from the raw cocoon?
This is the ultimate fact which we so quickly reach on this, as on every topic, the resolution of all into the ever-blessed ONE.
The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint for failure to state ultimate facts sufficient to constitute a claim for relief.
A pleading which sets forth a claim for relief, whether an original claim, counter claim, crossclaim, or third-party claim, must state a cause of action and shall contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new grounds of jurisdiction to support it, (2) a short and plain statement of the ultimate facts showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for judgment for the relief to which the pleader deems himself or herself entitled.
60) The creators of the Rules sought to eliminate confusion by downplaying fine distinctions between ultimate facts and legal conclusions.
1972) ("Although the Federal Rules permit statement of ultimate facts, a bare bones statement of conspiracy or of injury under the antitrust laws without any supporting facts permits dismissal.
Practitioners who, when pleading, had not worried about the fine distinctions among evidence, ultimate facts, and conclusions will again be required to ponder these imponderables, as will judges required to adjudicate ever more complicated motions to dismiss," he noted.
Terms That Confuse: Inferences, Ultimate Facts, and Conclusions
Ultimate facts, because they combine elements of law and fact, do not fit nicely within the law/fact dichotomy.
e) A statement of the ultimate facts alleged, including a statement of the specific facts that petitioner contends warrant reversal or modification of the agency's proposed action.
The complaint or Articles of Impeachment hardly meets the requirement that a complaint contain in a methodical and logical form, a plain, concise and direct statement of the ultimate facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim,'' they said.
I believe that the ultimate facts relevant for antitrust purposes cannot be perceived directly.

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