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What constitutes a proper "cause of action"?


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I am defending a lawsuit and although I have posed certain questions in another thread, I came across an issue tonight that I think would be useful to have its own thread. My dispute is over an alleged business line of credit.

The lawsuit uses the following cause of action: "Breach of Line of Credit." I've always had it in my head that they meant "Breach of Contract" but in fact, nowhere does the lawsuit say those words. Can a Plaintiff invent a cause of action, ie. if there was a dispute over an auto lease, can the suit read "Breach of Auto Lease" and still be proper? Isn't the proper and legal cause of action, "Breach of Contract", and therefore, since they never alleged it, do I have them on failure to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted?

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TERM: cause of action.

TEXT: A term difficult of precise definition, perhaps best defined as the fact or facts which establish or give rise to a right of action, in other words, give to a person a right to judicial relief. Fielder v Ohio Edison Co. 158 Ohio St 375, 109 NE2d 855, 35 ALR2d 1365. More summarily defined, a cause of action is the right which a party has to institute a judicial proceeding. 1 Am J2d Actions § 1. A cause of action is to be distinguished from right of action. A right of action is the right to enforce presently a cause of action, that is, a remedial right; a cause of action, on the other hand, is the operative fact or facts which give rise to a right of action. 1 Am J2d Actions § 2. A cause of action is a matter of substance concerned with the violation of a right, not a matter of remedy. 34 Am J1st Lim Act § 45. But "cause of action" is synonymous with "action" in the sense that the survival of an "action" is the survival of a "cause of action."

AUTHORITY: 1 Am J2d Abat & R § 1.

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Here is a really good 79-page review of Causes of Action.

http://www.coloradorepublic.org/docs/Commercial%20Law%20Text/Law%20School%20Tutorials/Causes.pdf

I don't know the answer to your question. But I'm thinking even if the cause of action is improper and you motion to dismiss, they will only refile with a corrected cause of action.

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Relief is pretty much up to the judge who reads the complaint. Anything that is even close usually is allowed. If the wording can reasonably be interpreted to put you on notice as to what they are alleging, it will be allowed. They look at more than the caption of the count, they look at the facts alleged in the count. If those facts support an imprecisely worded count, it will be allowed to go forward.

I tried this early on....parsing does not work. Think of it this way...lawyers are no better at their job than anyone else. There are good ones and there are bad ones. Most of this CC work is being done by paralegals who would be better off working at Mickey D's. Judges were lawyers, they went through this themselves. What judge can't remember filing something that wasn't worded exactly right? You are in a situation where exact wording does not matter. Nobody is on trial for their life here. The world of lawyers is different than your world. They self govern, they rule on each other's motions, they fight for their clients, then they go to lunch together.

The term "breach" is clear. The term "line of credit" is automatically connected in anyone's mind to a contract. Therefore, the leap to a cause of breach of contract is not that hard to make. Just my humble non lawyer opinion, but that is the way I see it after getting a few "smackdowns" from judges after I tried this tactic.

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