Document Title: Plaintiff's Interrogatories to Defendant

There are multiple plaintiffs. We typically define the plaintiff as, "Plaintiffs (Smith) want to object...etc." and this particular plaintiff is a couple. So many options, but which is right? "Plaintiffs (Smith)'s Interrogatories", Plaintiff's (Smith) Interrogatories" "Plaintiff (Smith)'s Int...", "Plaintiffs' (Smith) Int..."

  • Firstly, a couple does not mean the plaintiff need be in the plural: plaintiff can be a group, a corporate body, etc. As for the possessive apostrophe, considering only the singular, both "Plaintiff's (Smith)" as well as "Plaintiff (Smith)'s" seem to be acceptable. [...] – Kris Sep 18 '14 at 14:58
  • That's a tough one. If you're forced to use the parens for legal reasons, and don't have much latitude to reorganize the phrase, I'd suggest applying the possessive twice, if only for the sake of clarity: "The Plaintiffs' (Smiths') Interrogatories..." – Dan Bron Sep 18 '14 at 14:59
  • If the plaintiff is a couple, how is it "Smith" and not "the Smiths?" – Kris Sep 18 '14 at 14:59
  • RE: "Smith and not "the Smiths" Good Question and I'm not sure...In the signature block at the end of these documents, I've only ever seen "[Attorney Name], Attorney for the Plaintiffs Smith" Any time there is not this possessive issue, it's always just "Smith", never "the Smiths," but I'm not sure if that's a legality or just the way it's always been done. And when dealing with the title of a document, I don't want to go changing a lot. – user91868 Sep 18 '14 at 15:05
  • Usual boilerplate is definition at top: "Action ref: Mr. John A Smith and Mrs. Jane M Smith, hereinafter referred to as Plaintiff" ... – SrJoven Sep 18 '14 at 15:05

An apostrophe after a closed parenthesis is definitely wrong if you are asking about English, although I can't say anything about legal conventions, which are often weird, so I'm answering about English. You make the sentence correct without the parenthetical phrase: "Plantiffs' Interrogatories". Then you add the parenthetical phrase. Since you're saying that typically you don't match number (as in "Plaintiffs (Smith)" -- your example), you don't do it here either, and I'd skip the possessive as well: "Plaintiffs' (Smith) Interrogatories", That is, the parenthetical phrase specifies who the plaintiffs are, and doesn't need to formally act in the sentence interchangeably for the word "Plaintiffs'". The point here, as in all writing, is to convey the meaning as efficiently as possible without distractions. Wacky use of apostrophes and parentheses definitely would be distracting.

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    It's not a good idea to suggest rephrasing, which would circumvent the essential question of the post. The example sentence is just that, an example. The real question is about correct apostrophe use in a generic situation. I would say "this is not an answer." – Kris Sep 19 '14 at 5:38

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