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What is a bill of particulars?

A bill of particulars is a written document in which a party has to explain the allegations in his/her complaint, or petition, in more detail. The respondent in a lawsuit might request a bill of particulars if the complaint has general allegations without getting into the specific details that would be necessary for the respondent to properly defend him/herself in the case. In other words, a bill of particulars is a discovery tool that can be used by a respondent to figure out what the other party is claiming happened. Usually, requests for bill of particulars are sent out before depositions happen, and before other forms of discovery, so that the other party has a more complete sense of the allegations against him/her. If there is a complaint filed by one party and a counter-complaint filed by the other party, both parties may request a bill of particulars against each other. This way, the parties can start to understand what the other side’s “theory of the case” will be – in other words, what the party is trying to prove to the judge so that s/he can get the outcome and the relief s/he is looking for.

Once you know what the other side is trying to prove to the judge, you can better prepare for depositions or trial. If a bill of particulars does not explain enough of the case to support the lawsuit, then the other party might be able to file a motion to dismiss the claim.