A fact or set of facts that operate to defeat a legal claim even if the facts supporting that claim are true. In a civil complaint, for example, a plaintiff sets forth allegations against the defendant, that even if true, still do not state a cause of action upon which relief may be granted.
The best example of an affirmative defense is the statute of limitations which is the legally prescribed time limit in which the plaintiff must file his lawsuit or face immediate dismissal. This affirmitive defense to plaintiff claims are therefore time-barred by the statute of limitations. Under these grounds, it does not matter what the plaintiff claims the defendant did or didn’t d0 – it makes no difference – the case must be dismissed as a matter of law.« Back to Glossary Index