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Extraneous matter; impertinent, superfluous, or unnecessary.

In pleadings, surplusage refers to allegations that are not relevant to the Cause of Action. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, upon a motion, a court can strike from the pleadings any surplusage, such as an insufficient defense or an immaterial matter.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. a term used in analyzing legal documents and pleadings to refer to wording or statements which have no legal effect and, therefore, can be ignored.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


in pleadings, irrelevant matter, such as a superfluous allegation.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

SURPLUSAGE, pleading. A superfluous and useless statement of matter wholly foreign and impertinent to the cause.
     2. In general surplusagium non nocet, according to the maxim utile per inutile non vitiatur; therefore if a man in his declaration, plea, &c., make mention of a thing which need, not be stated, but the matter set forth is grammatically right, and perfectly sensible, no advantage can be taken on demurrer. Com. Dig. Pleader, C 28, E 2; 1 Salk. 325; 4 East, 400; Gilb. C. P. 131; Bac. Ab. Pleas, 1, 4; Co. Litt. 303, b; 2 Saund. 306, n. 14; 5 East 444; 1 Chit. Pl. 282; Lawes on Pl. 63; 7 John. 462; 3 Day, 472; 2 Mass. R. 283; 13 John. 80.
     3. When, by an unnecessary allegation the plaintiff shows he has no cause of action, the defendant may demur. Com. Dig. Pleader, c. 29; Bac. Ab. Pleas, 1, 4; see 2 East, 451; 4 East, 400; Dougl. 667; 2 Bl. Rep. 842; 3 Cranch, 193; 2 Dall. 300; 1 Wash. R. 257.
     4. When the surplusage is not grammatically set right, or it is unintelligible and, no sense at all can be given it, or it be contradictory or repugnant to what is before alleged, the adversary may take advantage of it on special demurrer. Gilb. C. P. 132; Lewes on Pl. 64.
     5. When a party alleges a material matter with an unnecessary detail of circumstances, and the essential and non-essential parts of a statement are, in their nature, so connected as to be incapable of separation, the opposite party may include under his traverse the whole matter alleged. And as it is an established rule that the evidence must correspond with the allegations, it follows that the party who has thus pleaded such unnecessarily matter will be required to prove it, and thus he is required to sustain an increased burden of proof, and incurs greater danger of failure at the trial. For example, if in justifying the taking of cattle damage feasant, in which case it is sufficient to allege that they were doing damage to his freehold, he should state a seisin in fee, which is traversed, be must prove a seisin in fee. Dyer, 365; 2 Saund. 206, a, note 22 Steph. on Pl. 261, 262; 1 Smith's Lead. Cas. 328, note; 1 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 51 1 Chit. Pl. 524, 525; U. S. Dig. Pleading, VII. c.

SURPLUSAGE, accounts. A greater disbursement than the charges of the accountant amount to.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
This is a clear violation of the canon against surplusage, (112) particularly given the existence of an alternative reading that preserves meaning for all three sections of the statute.
should win a match-up between the rule against surplusage and the
As Justice Ginsburg observed in Jones, "[j]udges should hesitate to treat statutory terms in any setting as surplusage." (90) Given that a broad reading of the relatedness requirement likely would obviate its need, this background principle would seem to point only in the direction of further narrowing.
In Book I of his treatises of government, Locke makes a case for the natural right of the needy to the surplus of the rich: "God the Lord and Father of all, has given no one of his children such a property in his peculiar portion of the things of this world, but that he has given his needy brother a right to the surplusage of his goods; so that it cannot justly be denied him, when his pressing wants call for it." (20) Even at its most non-egalitarian, the previous passage would clearly grant the legitimacy of other (needy) homesteaders' claims to any unused property "surplusage" that, within the context of this discussion, can be very clearly (but conservatively) identified via the chronic neglect of the original owner.
Article I, section 15's language, "electronic communications and data," cannot be read to be "mere surplusage" because every word "contained in a constitutional provision" is given meaning and effect.
Great Lakes argued that the canon of surplusage dictated that CLEC definition should be confined to carriers who serve end users directly, and that the FCC's interpretation conflicted with its 2011 Transformation Order.
"Eschew Surplusage." That's my favorite dictum about writing in "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses." It's a marvel of economy and precision, a two word "two-fer" that simultaneously upbraids verbosity and inflated, pretentious diction.
He stole all right, but it was surplusage. For "Butch" cut one ten feet to the left of second and Geier brought the game to land....
(54) The majority also invoked the surplusage canon (55) and looked for textual clues from related federal statutes.
contentious than omission of the mere "surplusage" that was
It is no answer to say, as petitioner does, Brief for Petitioner 17-18, that if the term "interest" were as all-encompassing as suggested by the majority opinion of the Court of Appeals, [section] 1963(a)(2) would have no meaning independent of [section] 1963(a)(1), and would be mere surplusage. This argument is plainly incorrect.