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A complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the basic facts and legal reasons ("cause of action") that the filing party (the plaintiff(s)) believes are sufficient to support a claim against another person, persons, entity or entities (the defendant(s)) that entitles the plaintiff(s) to a remedy (either monetary damages or injunctive relief).
For example, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that govern civil litigation in U.S. federal courts provide that a civil action is commenced with the filing or service of a pleading called a complaint. Civil court rules in states that have incorporated the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure use the same term for the same pleading.
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