What is a summons?

Every complaint that is to be served must be accompanied by a summons. The summons must be issued within ten days of the filing of the complaint. R. 4:4-1. Failure to issue the summons timely may result in the dismissal of the case without prejudice, though dismissal is quite rare unless the defendant is prejudiced by the delay. Id.; see, e.g., Vines v. Orange Memorial Hospital, 192 N.J. Super. 496 (App. Div. 1984).

The form of the summons is described in R. 4:4-2. Once again, the annotated New Jersey Court Rules contain an actual form of summons that may be used. Forms may also be purchased from commercial firms as well. The docket number of the case, once received, must be placed on the summons, and counsel should sign the name of the Clerk of the Superior Court (you can find the Clerk’s name in the New Jersey Lawyer’s Diary). As noted above, a copy of the track assignment must be attached to the summons. R. 4:5A-2(a). Once the summons is ready, counsel must then arrange for service of the summons and complaint upon each defendant.  

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