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Legal Memorandum: Purpose of a Demurrer to a Complaint

Issue: What is the purpose of a demurrer to a complaint?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Demurrer to a complaint; Purpose; Legal sufficiency
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: 36 Cal. 4; 116 P.3d 567; 90 Cal. App. 4th 958; 101 Cal. Rptr. 499
Cited Statutes: Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 430.10,
Date: 03/01/2007

            “It is hornbook law that the ‘purpose of a complaint is to furnish the defendants with certain definite charges which can be intelligently met.’ . . . Facts, not conclusions, must be pleaded.”  Zumbrun v. Univ. of S. Cal., 25 Cal. App. 3d 1, 8, 101 Cal. Rptr. 499, 503 (1972) (citation omitted).

The purpose of a demurrer, pursuant to Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 430.10, is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint.  PacLink Commc’ns Int’l, Inc. v. Superior Court, 90 Cal. App. 4th 958, 961, 109 Cal. Rptr. 2d 436, 437 (2001) (directing the trial court to sustain without leave to amend the defendants’ demurrer, because the plaintiffs had no standing to sue other than derivatively).  See also People v. El Dorado County, 116 P.3d 567, 573, 36 Cal. 4th 971, 988 (2005) (lack of capacity to sue).  For purposes of a demurrer, the court assumes the truth of the pleaded facts.  Id. at 961, 109 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 437. 

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