litigation


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Litigation

An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.

When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. Under the various rules of Civil Procedure that govern actions in state and federal courts, litigation involves a series of steps that may lead to a court trial and ultimately a resolution of the matter.

Before a lawsuit is filed, the person contemplating the lawsuit (called the plaintiff) typically demands that the person who caused the alleged injury (called the defendant) perform certain actions that will resolve the conflict. If the demand is refused or ignored, the plaintiff may start the lawsuit by serving copies of a summons and complaint on the defendant and filing the complaint with a civil trial court. The complaint must state the alleged injuries and attribute them to the defendant, and request money damages or equitable relief.

If the service of the complaint on the defendant does not result in a settlement of the issues, the plaintiff must begin the discovery process. This involves sending to the defendant written questions (called interrogatories) that seek information involving the dispute at issue. The plaintiff may depose the defendant and others concerning the issues, with the deposition recorded by a court reporter. The plaintiff may also request copies of documents for review. Once litigation commences the defendant is also permitted to use discovery to learn more about the plaintiff's case. The discovery process may be conducted in a matter of weeks, or it may take years, depending on the complexity of the case and the level of cooperation between the parties.

After discovery is completed, most courts require the parties to attend a settlement conference to determine if the case may be resolved before trial. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the litigation continues to trial. Near or on the day of trial, one or both parties often make settlement offers, in the hope of avoiding court proceedings (which are often costly and protracted). Litigation ends if a settlement is reached.

If the parties are still unable to resolve their differences, a trial is held. At trial both sides are permitted to introduce relevant evidence that will help to prove to the jury or the court the truth of their positions. If the plaintiff makes a convincing case, the defendant may seek to settle the case immediately. On the other hand, if the plaintiff presents a weak case, the defendant may ask the court to dismiss the case. If the trial proceeds to a conclusion, either the jury or the judge (if a jury trial was waived) must decide which party prevails.

If the defendant loses the lawsuit, the defendant may ask the court to throw out the jury verdict if the evidence did not warrant the decision, or the defendant may ask that the damages awarded to the plaintiff be reduced. The court has discretion to grant or refuse these kinds of requests.

Once a final decision has been made at the trial court, the losing party may appeal the decision within a specified period of time. The federal courts and the states have intermediate courts of appeal that hear most civil appeals. The appellate court reviews the arguments of the parties on appeal and determines whether the trial court conducted the proceedings correctly. Once the appellate court issues a decision, usually in opinion form, the losing party may appeal to the state supreme court if the litigation occurred in a state court, or to the U.S. Supreme Court if the litigation occurred in a federal court. After the supreme court rules on the case, the decision is final.

Once a decision is final, litigation ends. The prevailing party is then given the authority to collect damages or receive other remedies from the losing party. After the losing party provides the relief, that party is entitled to receive from the prevailing party a satisfaction of judgment, which is filed with the trial court. This document attests to the satisfaction of all court-imposed relief and signifies the end of the case.

litigation

n. any lawsuit or other resort to the courts to determine a legal question or matter.

litigation

noun action, case, cause, controversy, disputation, dispute, judicial contest, lawsuit, legal action, legal battle, legal contest, legal dispute, legal matter, legal proceeding, legal remedy, matter, proceeding, suit, suit at law, trial, wrangling
Associated concepts: appellate proceedings, civil proceeddngs, collateral proceedings, common law proceedings, criminal proceedings, frivolous litigation, plenary proceeddngs, special proceedings, summary proceedings, suppleeental proceedings
See also: action, case, cause, complaint, contest, controversy, day in court, dispute, hearing, lawsuit, legal proceeding, matter, proceeding, prosecution, suit, trial

litigation

the putting of a dispute before a court or tribunal.

LITIGATION. A contest authorized by law, in a court of justice, for the purpose of enforcing a right.
     2. In order to prevent injustice, courts of equity will restrain a party from further litigation, by a writ of injunction; for example, after two verdicts on trials at bar, in favor of the plaintiff, a perpetual injunction was decreed. Str. 404. And not only between two individuals will a court of equity grant this relief, as in the above case of several ejectments, but also, when one general legal right, as a right of fishery, is claimed against several, distinct persons, in which case there would be no end of bringing actions, since each action would only bind the particular right in question, between the plaintiff and defendant in such action, without deciding the general right claimed. 2 Atk. 484; 2 Ves. jr. 587. Vide Circuity of Actions.

References in periodicals archive ?
Thomas Rogers (Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law; Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement)
Litigation proceeds and the related legal fees generally fall into four categories:
Depending upon the issues in dispute, patent litigation discovery may cover a wide variety of categories of information.
Although there may be many sensitive documents in the tax reserve file, taxpayers and advisers should carefully review each document and assert a work-product claim only for those documents for which they can make a showing that the document was prepared in anticipation of litigation or controversy.
What assistance will the client provide to the litigation team in terms of gathering documents, reviewing documents, technology tutorial, witness preparation/coordination, locating and educating experts, etc.
This evolution toward litigation preparedness is a critical step because it means greater control over the legal process and ultimately better management of a cost center with the potential to materially impact earnings.
Mandel Resnik, established in 1977, is distinguished for its breadth of experience and capabilities relating to the acquisition, operation and disposition of real estate and the structure of real estate related transactions, cooperative and condominium law, its counsel in stock and asset acquisitions and advice in strategic acquisition, expansion and divestiture programs; and its representation of clients in matters of litigation including shareholder and partnership disputes, employment and discrimination actions, insurance coverage issues, and a wide range of real estate related matters.
Oakstone Publishing a Haights Cross Communications company, this month introduced the online Mold Litigation Reporter, published by Oakstone's Legal & Business division under the Andrews Publications imprint, according to Haights Cross's Michael Stugrin.
State officials moved to terminate a 1973 prison conditions consent decree, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).
The first-ever compilation of LAPD litigation by City Attorney James Hahn's office for the Police Department and its commission is the initial step in a far-reaching plan to identify every department's exposure in an effort to reduce payouts that since 1992 have cost the city more than $322 million.
In that case, Boccardo claimed that advances made by a law firm on behalf of clients for litigation expenses, pursuant to contingent "net" fee arrangements, were deductible when paid by the law firm as a business expense.