Anatomy of a Lawsuit – Part 1 Introduction
by BPE Law Senior Attorney Alexander W. Munn
Most clients we see here at BPE Law Group have never been involved in a lawsuit
– also known as litigation. Naturally, they have many questions surrounding the
process: how long will it take, how much will it cost, what can I expect to receive
in damages (conversely, how much will I have to pay), and can I get my attorneys
fees from the other party?
One theme is consistent: being a party to a lawsuit, whether as a plaintiff or defendant,
is stressful. The process is time consuming as you will be asked to answer written
questions, provide documentation, and perhaps have your deposition taken by the
opposing lawyer. Although most cases settle before trial, your particular case may
have to be tried before a judge or jury if the litigants cannot reach a compromise.
In the coming weeks we will present a series of blog articles to help explain the
various stages of litigation. Our hope is that by providing you with a road map
of the process, it will take some of the mystery out of lawsuits, and perhaps even
some of the inherent stress that goes along with being a party in the civil judicial
The blog series will focus on the following areas:
* The Complaint – if you are a plaintiff (the party who is suing the defendant),
this is the initial document filed with the Court and serves to frame the issues.
It contains the facts, causes of action and prayer for damages.
* Damages – as a plaintiff, can I seek monetary damages against the defendant? How
much? What if they have no money to pay? What is ‘equitable’ relief?
* Responsive pleadings – if I’m a defendant, what documents can I file if I’ve been
sued? An Answer? Can I challenge the complaint and ask the Judge to throw out the
case at the beginning? What’s a demurrer? Motion to Strike?
* Gathering evidence – the ‘discovery’ process. Asking and answering written questions
via interrogatories; producing and requesting documents by requests for production;
admitting certain facts through requests for admissions. What if they don’t provide
what were are asking for? Finally, we will outline the deposition process.
* Dispositive motions – motions for Summary Judgment. Acts as a ‘trial on paper’
to potentially have the lawsuit dismissed in favor of a defendant, or damages awarded
to the plaintiff.
* Settlement – 95% of cases resolve before trial. What factors are considered in
accepting a settlement? Risks inherent in trial, continuing and escalating costs
and attorneys fees, and most importantly compromise b y understanding such risks.
* Trial – will it be held in front of a jury or just a Judge? How long does it last?
What do I have to prove? Will I have to testify? Will I be cross-examined?
* Attorneys fees – can I be reimbursed for the attorneys fees I incurred?
The attorneys at BPE Law Group, P.C. have been advising and representing our clients
in litigation matters for our entire history throughout the State of California
as well as in the Federal Courts. If you are considering filing a lawsuit, or find
yourself as a defendant and are interested in how BPE Law Group can help you with
your litigation-related matters, call us at (916) 966-2260 or email attorney Alexander
Munn at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This article is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be taken as legal
advice. Every case requires review of specific facts and history, and a formal agreement
for service. Please feel free to contact us if you need legal advice and are interested
in seeing if we can help you.