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Case

A general term for any action, Cause of Action, lawsuit, or controversy. All the evidence and testimony compiled and organized by one party in a lawsuit to prove that party's version of the controversy at a trial in court.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

case

n. short for a cause of action, lawsuit, or the right to sue (as in "does he have a case against Jones?"). It is also shorthand for the reported decisions (appeals, certain decisions of federal courts and special courts such as the tax court) which can be cited as precedents. Thus, "in the case of Malarkey v. Hogwash Printing Company, the court stated the rule as...."

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

case

an action or suit at law or something that forms sufficient grounds for bringing an action. More especially in English legal history an action ‘on the case’ was one allowed on cognate facts to the principal action. A leading example is trespass on the case, two forms of which had a great part to play in English law - ASSUMPSIT and TROVER.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

CASE, remedies. This is the name of an action in very general use, which lies where a party sues for damages for any wrong or cause of complaint to which covenant or trespass will not lie. Steph. Pl. 153 Wodd. 167 Ham. N. P. 1. Vide Writ of trespass on the case. In its most comprehensive signification, case includes assumpsit as well as an action in form ex delicto; but when simply mentioned, it is usually understood to mean an action in form ex delicto. 7 T. R. 36. It is a liberal action; Burr, 906, 1011 1 Bl. Rep. 199; bailable at common law. 2 Barr 927-8; founded on the justice and conscience of the Tiff's case, and is in the nature of a bill in equity 3 Burr, 1353, 1357 and the substance of a count in case is the damage assigned. 1 Bl. Rep. 200.
     2. An action on the case lies to recover damages for torts not committed with force actual or implied, or having been occasioned by force, where the matter affected was not tangible, or where the injury was not immediate but consequential; 11 Mass. 59, 137 1 Yeates, 586; 6 S. & R. 348; 12 S. & R. 210; 18 John. 257 19 John. 381; 6 Call, 44; 2 Dana, 378 1 Marsh. 194; 2 H. & M. 423; Harper, 113; Coxe, 339; or where the interest in the property was only in reversion. 8 Pick. 235; 7 Conn. 3282 Green, 8 1 John. 511; 3 Hawks, 2462 Murph. 61; 2 N. H. Rep. 430. In these several cases trespass cannot be sustained. 4 T. 11. 489 7 T. R. 9. Case is also the proper remedy for a wrongful act done under legal process regularly issuing from a court of competent jurisdiction. 2 Conn. 700 11 Mass. 500 6 Greenl. 421; 1 Bailey, 441, 457; 9 Conn. 141; 2 Litt. 234; 3 Conn. 5373 Gill & John. 377. Vide Regular and irregular process.
     3. It will be proper to consider, 1. in what cases the action of trespass on the case lies; 2. the pleadings 3. the evidence; 4. the judgment.
     4.-1. This action lies for injuries, 1. to the absolute rights of persons 2. to the relative rights of persons; 3. to personal property; 4. to real property.
     5.-1. When the injury has been done to the absolute rights of persons by an act not immediate but consequential, as in the case of special damages arising from a public nuisance Willes, 71 to 74 or where an incumbrance had been placed in a public street, and the plaintiff passing there received an injury; or for a malicious prosecution. See malicious prosecution.
     6.-2. For injuries to the relative rights, as for enticing away an infant child, per quod servitium amisit, 4 Litt. 25; for criminal conversation, seducing or harboring wives; debauching daughters, but in this case the daughter must live with her father as his servant, see Seduction; or enticing away or harboring apprentices or servants. 1 Chit. Pl. 137 2 Chit. Plead. 313, 319. When the seduction takes place in the husband's or father's house, he may, at his election, have trespass or case; 6 Munf. 587; Gilmer, but when the injury is done in the house of another, case is the proper remedy. 5 Greenl. 546.
     7.-3. When the injury to personal property is without force and. not immediate, but consequential, or when the plaintiff Is right to it is in reversion, as, where property is injured by a third person while in the hands of a hirer; 3 Camp. 187; 2 Murph. 62; 3 Hawks, 246, case is the proper remedy. 8 East, 693; Ld. Raym. 1399; Str. 634; 1 Chit. Pl. 138.
     8.-4. When the real property which has been injured is corporeal, and the injury is not immediate but consequential, as for example, putting a spout so near the plaintiff's land that the water runs upon it; 1 Chit. Pl. 126, 141; Str. 634; or where the plaintiff's property is only in reversion. When the injury has been done to, incorporeal rights, as for obstructing a private way, or disturbing a party in the use of a pew, or for injury to a franchise, as a ferry, and the like, case is the proper remedy. l Chit. Pl. 143.
     9.-2. The declaration in case, technically so called, differs from a declaration in trespass, chiefly in this, that in case, it must not, in general, state the injury to have been committed vi et armis; 3 Conn. 64; see 2 Ham. 169; 11 Mass. 57; Coxe, 339; yet after verdict, the words "with force and arms" will, be rejected as surplusage; Harp. 122; and it ought not to conclude contra pacem. Com. Dig. Action on the Case, C 3. The plea is usually the general issue, not guilty.
    10.-3. Any matter may, in general, be given in evidence, under the plea of not guilty, except the statute of limitations. In cases of slander and a few other instances, however, this cannot be done. 1 Saund. 130, n. 1; Wilies, 20. When the plaintiff declares in case, with averments appropriate to that form of action and the evidence shows that the injury was trespass; or when he declares in trespass, and the evidence proves an injury for which case will lie, and not trespass, the defendant should be acquitted by the jury, or the plaintiff should be nonsuited. 5 Mass. 560; 16 Mass. 451; Coxe, 339; 3 John. 468.
    11.-4. The judgment is, that the plaintiff recover a sum of money, ascertained by a jury, for his damages sustained by the committing of the grievances complained of in the declaration, and costs.
    12. In the civil law, an action was given in all cases of nominate contracts, which was always of the same name. But in innominate contracts, which had always the same consideration, but not the same name, there could be no action of the same denomination, but an action which arose from the fact, in factum, or an action with a form which arose from the particular circumstance, praescriptis verbis actio. Lec. Elem. Sec. 779. Vide, generally, Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.

CASE, STATED, practice. An agreement in writing, between a plaintiff and defendant, that the facts in dispute between them are as there agreed upon and mentioned, 3 Whart. 143.
     2. The facts being thus ascertained, it is left for the court to decide for which party is the law. As no writ of error lies on a judgment rendered on a case stated, Dane's Ab. c. 137, art. 4, n. Sec. 7, it is usual in the agreement to insert a clause that the case stated shall be considered in the nature of special verdict.
     3. In that case, a writ of error lies on the judgment which may be rendered upon it. And a writ of error will also lie on a judgment on a case stated, when the parties have agreed to it. 8 Serg. & Rawle, 529.
     4. In another sense, by a case stated is understood a statement of all the facts of a case, together with the names of the witnesses, and, a detail of the documents which are to support them. In other words, it is a brief. (q.v.)

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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