CIvil Litigation

Trial Experience Matters

It is often said that no one wins in litigation.  Avoiding litigation is the best route, but sometimes it is necessary to initiate legal action to resolve a dispute.  Often, someone decides to sue you and you have no choice other than to defend your rights.  Whether you need to start a lawsuit to right a wrong or you find yourself being sued, we can help you with your case.

Court cases that involve disputes between people or businesses over money or some injury to personal rights are called “civil” cases.

Civil courts handle a wide variety of cases.  Very broadly, civil cases may involve such things as:

  • Tort claims.  A "tort" is a wrongful act (sometimes called a "tortious" act) that causes injury to someone's person, property, reputation, or the like, for which the injured person is entitled to payment.  Cases involving personal injury, battery, negligence, defamation, medical malpractice, fraud, and many others, are all examples.
  • Breach of contract claims.  A breach of contract case usually results from a person's failure to perform some term of a contract, whether the contract is written or verbal, without some legitimate legal excuse.  Examples include lawsuits for not completing a job, not paying in full or on time, failing to deliver goods sold or promised, and many others.
  • Equitable claims.  An "equitable claim" usually asks the court to order a party to take some action or stop some action.  It might be joined with a claim for money.  Cases for a court order to stop the destruction of property, the sale of land, or the marketing to a business' customers are are examples.
  • Landlord-tenant claims.  Civil courts handle disputes between landlords and tenants.  Cases where a landlord is trying to evict a tenant, or a tenant has moved out and is suing a landlord for the return of a security deposit are examples.

A civil case usually begins when one person or business (called the "plaintiff") claims to have been harmed by the actions of another person or business (called the "defendant").

The plaintiff starts a court case by filing a "complaint" (a document that outlines the plaintiff’s facts and legal theories and makes a request for relief).  In the complaint, the plaintiff might:

  • Ask the court for "damages," meaning money to pay the plaintiff for any harm suffered
  • Ask for an "injunction," which is a court order to prevent the defendant from doing something or to require the defendant to do something
  • Ask for a "declaratory judgment," meaning a court order stating the parties' rights under a contract or statute

Eventually, a judge or jury will determine the facts of the case (in other words, figure out what really happened) and then apply the appropriate law to those facts.  Based on their analysis of the law and facts, the judge or jury will make a final “judgment” (sometimes also called a "decision" or "order") and decide what legal consequences flow from the parties' actions.

Having legal representation is critical due to the complexity of the procedures involved in a lawsuit and those without legal representation learn very quickly they need a lawyer.