Understanding the Litigation Process
Litigation is the disagreement between a defendant and a plaintiff in a court procedure. Sometimes, litigation is referred to as “a lawsuit” and when referring to a civil action put before a court of law when no criminal action is involved and the plaintiff has incurred a loss due to the actions of the defendant and the plaintiff demands a legal or equitable solution. The defendant must respond to the plaintiffs pleading (complaint).
Thomas Whitelaw & Kolegraff understands the rules and practices involved in the resolution of disputes within the court system. We are specialized in complex business litigation which includes, technology licensing agreements, class action suits, trademark and copyright infringement, trade secret abuse and unfair competition, securities and corporate litigation, environmental actions, and products liability. We also offer guidance in all forms of real estate and construction law.
Litigation law also refers to contested divorces, tort cases, eviction proceedings and more. The definition of “Litigation” in the Lectric Law Library is stated below:
“Litigation. A case, controversy, or lawsuit. A contest authorized by law, in a court of justice, for the purpose of enforcing a right.”
The litigation process begins with a pleading, more commonly known as a complaint and is a document that proves the basis for the plaintiffs cause of action and demand to be brought before the court for settlement. The complaint should list all the claims against the defendant and specify the solution that the plaintiff demands from the defendant.
The defendant is then “served” with the notice that the plaintiff has filed a complaint with the courts which is often called “being sued”. The defendant must give an answer to the complaint to the courts. Thomas Whitelaw is well-trained to help you understand what you need to either file a complaint or to respond to the complaint.
Federal courts are governed by various rules: the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. State and local courts supplement the local rules and the judge’s standing orders.
When all of this becomes confusing or demands your attention, then contact Thomas Whitelaw & Kolegraff to guide you through the required procedures because this was only the beginning and there are many more steps involved through the process.
The most common basics in a civil case are listed below:
- The plaintiff files a complaint with clerk of the court.
- The defendant is served the complaint to establish personal jurisdiction.
- The plaintiff and defendant meet to identify the issues in the complaint, attempt a settlement without need of the court and to make a plan for discovery and disclosure.
- The court holds a pretrial scheduling conference or issues a pretrial scheduling order
- The defendant can file motions in response to the complaint. Additional motions can be filed later.
- Defendant files their answer with the courts.
- Both parties give proof and documents to move the discovery process forward.
- Both parties have the opportunity to file additional motions with the court.
- The final pre-trial conference is held by the court.
- The trial is conducted by the court.
- The judgment is rendered, signed and filed by the court.
- Any post-trial proceedings are held if required.
At the end of this process if the defendant is not pleased can continue the process by appealing the court’s decision. The court may or may not “stay” (agree to more legal actions) depending on the situation. If an appeal is agreed to by the court, a new and different procedure begins which include: consideration of the appeal based on briefs or oral argument, rendering judgment, additional proceedings if required and enforcing final judgment.
Thomas Whitelaw will walk you through the process making sure you understand each step along the way and give you the expert advice and experience that you need for any civil action. Don’t hesitate to contact Thomas Whitelaw & Kolegraff when you need answers to legal questions “BEFORE” you mistakenly cause more problems or invalidate your claims.