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The party who sues in a civil action; a complainant; the prosecution—that is, a state or the United States representing the people—in a criminal case.
n. the party who initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint with the clerk of the court against the defendant(s) demanding damages, performance and/or court determination of rights. (See: complaint, defendant, petitioner)
plaintiffnoun accuser, adversary, claimant, individual who brings a lawsuit, litigant, one who brings an action, opponent, party to the suit, party who sues, petitioner, petitor, suitor
Associated concepts: indispensable party plaintiff, nominal plaintiff, proper plaintiff, real plaintiff, third party plaintiff
Foreign phrases: Reus excipiendo fit actor.The defendant by pleading may make himself a plaintiff. Melior est condiiio possidentis ubi neuter jus habet. The condition of the possessor and that of the defendant is better than that of the plaintiff. Cum par delictum est duorum, semper oneratur petitor, et melior habetur possessoris causa. When there is equal fault on both sides, the burden is always placed on the plaintiff, and the cause of the possessor is preferred. In praeparatoriis ad judicium favetur actori. In those matters preceding judgment the plaintiff is favored.
See also: actor, claimant, complainant, litigant, party, suitor
plaintiffthe person bringing an action in court. In England and Wales now a claimant. For Scotland called a pursuer.
PLAINTIFF, practice. He who, in a personal action, seeks a remedy for an
injury to his rights. Ham. on Parties, h.t.; 1 Chit. Pl. Index, h.t.; Chit.
Pr. Index, h.t.; 1 Com. Dig. 36, 205, 308.
2. Plaintiffs are legal or equitable. The legal plaintiff is he in whom the legal title or cause of action is vested. The equitable plaintiff is he who, not having the legal title, yet, is in equity entitled to the thing sued for; for example, when a suit is brought by Benjamin Franklin for the use of Robert Morris, Benjamin Franklin is the legal, and Robert Morris the equitable plaintiff. This is the usual manner of bringing suit, when the cause of action is not assignable at law, but is so in equity. Vide Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.; Parties to Actions.