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Facts - Books - News    U.S. Facts Of Law:

Lawsuit Rules of Procedure

Lawsuit rules of procedure are based upon the adversarial dispute resolution process of common law.  State and local laws within the framework of the personal rights provided by the U.S. Constitution define the procedure for the legal process.  The steps are fairly universal throughout the United States.

To begin a lawsuit the plaintiff files a Complaint with the court asking the court for a remedy.  The petition should be filed in the court with jurisdiction where the action causing the complaint occurred.  The complaint should contain certain information needed by the court and should be completed and filed by the plaintiff's attorney.

The defendant named in the complaint is notified about the complaint and has a fixed amount of time to reply to the complaint.  The defendant's attorney may file a Motion to dismiss the complaint or just immediately file an Answer with the court.  The answer may contain a counter suit against the plaintiff if reason for one exists.  If the defendant does nothing, the the court will most likely find in favor of the plaintiff.

After the complaint and the answer have been filed, the two sides provide each other with copies of the evidence and lists of witnesses that will be used to support the complaint and defense in court.  This process is called Discovery.  If the discovery process shows that one side is clearly right and the other wrong, the two sides may reach a Settlement and avoid further litigation.

If a settlement has not been reached the complaint proceeds to the Trial.  During the trial, both sides present their cases and either the judge or the jury determines the legality of the matter.  The two parties may still reach a settlement at any time prior to the judge or jury reaching a decision.  If the judge or jury finds that the facts of law support the plaintiff, a Judgment is entered in favor of the plaintiff specifying the remedy.  If the facts are found to support the defendant, either the case will be Dismissed or a judgment may be entered for the defendant if a counter suit was filed.

Usually the plaintiff includes a request in the complaint that his or her legal expenses be paid by the defendant if he or she prevails.  Normally each party pays their own legal expenses unless by contract or law, legal expenses may be recovered.  Also, in order to recover damages, a plaintiff must show proof of actual damages unless the law specifies what damages may be recovered.  In some cases, the court or jury is allowed to specify an reasonable amount of punitive damages.  Punitive damages have sometimes resulted in awards amounting to millions of dollars.


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Facts of Law describing the lawsuit procedure

Facts of Law - Lawsuit Procedure