What is Civil Litigation?

QUESTION: What is Civil Litigation?

ANSWER:  Lawsuit

If you have not been involved in a lawsuit this lesson will teach you what the Civil Litigation lawsuit involves.

The First thing the party who wants to sue against files a paper with the Court in the County they live in.  To start the official process of a lawsuit a COMPLAINT against the person needs to be filed with the Court.   The person who files this paper (complaint) is called a Defendant/PLAINTIFF.

File a paper with the courts called a PLEADING, which tells the court a complaint against the other person with details.*

The Second thing the party who wants to sue against a person is called the DISCOVERY.   This process provides Evidence on each side of the parties’ disputes.

The Third thing the party will do is file a Motion.  A MOTION is a paper which is filed with the court asking the court to give a date for Judge to hear the case and make a decision.


Plaintiff: The person who files a Complaint which begins a legal action against the Defendant.

Complaint: The document which is filed with the court and it initiates a lawsuit against the Defendant.

Complaint: Sets forth the Plaintiff’s facts, claims, damages, law and relief requested.

  1. Facts
  2. Claims
  3. Damages
  4. Laws
  5. Relief

Defendant: The person who is responsible for the Plaintiff’s injury.  The Defendant is served with a Complaint.

Answer:  Defendant’s formal response to the Plaintiffs complaint that is filed with the Court and served to the Plaintiff.

Written on 4/16/2011 © 2011 Jackie Paulson All Rights Reserved

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Plaintiff Sues Defendant = Plaintiff will allege Facts and Law to support their Rights.  This is the start of a lawsuit when the Plaintiff files a Complaint (and demands Judgment) against the Defendant.

Defendant must Answer the filed Complaint by Law.  If the Defendant is not guilty they can  Avoid Answering Complaint by filing “Motions.”  Or, the Defendant can Defend self by replying to each allegation of Complaint and further alleges facts and law affirming their defenses.

List of Motions includes:

Discovery includes:

The reason why Discovery is so important is because both sides use all five discovery tools at all times prior to trial to get to the evidence that will tend to prove their own allegations and undermine those of their opponent.  The key to winning is knowing how to use the “discovery tools” effectively.

When the parties fight in Court this is because they did not “agree” in the (pre-trial) motions.

Thus going to Court will be a Trial which is a formal setting for both sides to present Evidence and legal Argument.

In the end the Judge will decide the case and the judgement is Final.

“If the law and facts are on your side and you know how to get your evidence in the record and how to cite and argue the law then you will win your  case.”

If you have questions or comments I can be reached at jackiepaulson8@gmail.com

I am a “Paralegal” in Illinois.

I am also a “Security Officer” in Illinois.

Thank you for reading this post as I want to help educate others in the world of the legal profession.

Elements of a Civil Complaint

Certain sections of a complaint tend to be boilerplate language

(for example, the greeting, damages, jury demand, prayer for

relief). When looking at a complaint, sections are separate and in

this order:

Case caption – tells which court you are in and who the

parties are. Leaves room for the court clerk to stamp a case

number onto. Don’t put this information in column format.

The Dole case forgot the close-quotes down the middle to

cordon off the names from the court space. See the Viacom

case for a proper case caption.

Title of the pleading – the title here would be Complaint.

In some jurisdictions, it is called a Petition.

Short introduction -a typical introduction might state,

“Comes Now the plaintiff, Justin King, by and through his

attorney, and alleges:” (It can be just this short)

Parties – who the parties are and where they reside to show

the court it has personal jurisdiction over the parties.

Jurisdiction and Venue – what statute or statutes give the

court authority to hear the subject matter of the case and

that the chosen courthouse is the correct one (this is


Allegations or Statement of Facts – what happened. Tell the

story of the accident. Tell the story in the most succinct way possible.

Don’t skip around. Try to keep the flow so it is convincing. This is

why we LOVE computers because you can cut and paste and rearrange

paragraphs to make our client’s story more cohesive and enrapture our

audience (the judge)to want to give us what we are asking for.

Causes of Action – what legal theories are you asserting?

What duty did the defendant have towards plaintiff? How did

defendant breach that duty? How was plaintiff hurt by the

breach? Each cause of action is listed separately. See

Chapter 4 in the book for the facts needed to be alleged for

each cause of action.

Damages – what is plaintiff asking for? Take a look at the

damages request from the Dole case. It is a general

damages request, and a lot of attorneys use just that

wording in every complaint pleading they draft. Remember

some lawyers consider this boilerplate language and cut

from an old complaint pleading to paste into a new

complaint pleading. (As you can tell, been there, done that

to make life a little easier.) BUT keep in mind that depending

on the causes of action you may need to be a lot more

specific in your damages demand.

Jury Demand – If you want a jury, you have to ask for it.

Prayer for Relief – Ask the court nicely to help the plaintiff.

Commonly considered boiler plate and the Dole E.coli case is

a really good example.

Date when the complaint is submitted to the court

– this is especially important because there will always be a

statute of limitation, a statute of repose, etc., and time

matters to the law.

Attorney information and signature – this is usually done

single spaced, not double spaced. Need to remember the

attorney’s bar number, street address, city, state and zip,

phone number, and fax number. Also, who does the attorney


Source:  Scribd

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  1. Hey Jackie – I love this new blog. Looks cool and pretty.

    I’m so happy that you’ve found your blogging voice in the legal profession that you really love.

    Happy to find you here, and be your first commenter!

  1. How to Force the Other Side to Produce Evidence « LIBERTINE

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