How to File a Lawsuit – Part 1

A lawsuit is a civil legal action by one party (the plaintiff) against another party (the defendant). The case may be heard in a court of law or a court of equity.

A suit usually involves a request for money damages or an order to stop something from happening. Sometimes it is an appeal from a lower-court judgment.

The process of a lawsuit includes filing papers, serving the defendant with those papers, and waiting for the defendant to answer. Afterward, the judge or jury decides whether the defendant is responsible for the damage and what should be done about it.

Depending on the facts and legal claims, you may ask for compensatory damages, punitive damages, or treble damages or injunctive relief. If you request punitive damages, you must demonstrate that the defendant acted with a “culpable state of mind” under the relevant statutes.

How to file a lawsuit: Part 1

You must start with a complaint, which describes the facts and legal claims that you want the court to decide. It sets forth subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, and venue, cites to relevant statutes and cases, and specifies the relief you are seeking.

The complaint should include a caption that states the names of the plaintiff and defendant, and the court in which you are filing the case. It should also include a concise statement of the factual allegations and separate counts for each of your legal claims. It should contain expert support for your claims if the rules require it.

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