LEGL 215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Voir Dire, Interrogatories, Miscarriage

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Key points - Chapter 3 Court Procedures
PRE-SUIT CONSIDERATIONS
Consulting with an Attorney: The first step to take when contemplating a lawsuit, as well
as when facing a lawsuit, is to consult with a qualified attorney.
Fixed Fees: A flat rate for the attorney’s time and effort, typically excluding expenses for
expert witnesses, depositions, etc.
Hourly Fees: A fee based on the attorney’s time expended on the matter, sometimes
varying depending on whether that time is spent researching, engaging in discovery, or
before the court.
Contingent Fees: Typically set as a percentage of the damages recovered in the event of a
successful outcome.
Settlement Considerations: The limited time and money a client has to invest in a lawsuit
may suggest trying to resolve the dispute without filing suit or early in the litigation process.
PLEADINGS
Pleadings: Written documents that inform each of the parties of one another’s claims and
defenses and specify the issues involved in the lawsuit. The primary pleadings are:
(1) Plaintiff’s Complaint: sets forth the claims asserted by the party seeking relief.
(2) Defendant’s Answer: responds to the claims set forth in the Complaint and, where
appropriate, asserts affirmative defenses (reasons why the plaintiff’s claims fail or are
limited as a matter of law or equity), and, where appropriate, asserts counterclaims.
If the defendant does not answer within the time allotted by the applicable rules, the plaintiff
may seek a default judgment
. If the defendant asserts a counterclaim, the plaintiff may file
a Reply.
SERVICE OF PROCESS
Once the plaintiff has filed her complaint or petition, each defendant must be served with
process
– a copy of the complaint and a summons
from the court informing each defendant
of his obligation to answer or otherwise appear within a specified time or risk default.
A court may not exercise jurisdiction over a defendant until it has proof that the defendant
was properly served.
An individual defendant may be served at his residence or at his principal place of business;
A corporate defendant may be served by serving an officer or registered agent
, designated
for the purpose of receiving service.
A partnership defendant may be served by serving any partner.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit – and even encourage – waiver of formal
service of process due to the cost associated to the state.
PRETRIAL MOTIONS
Motion: A request submitted to the court by an attorney on behalf of their client.
Motion to Dismiss: A motion seeking to terminate the lawsuit due to Plaintiff’s failure to
comply with proper procedure or failure to state a justiciable claim.
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings: A motion by either party requesting the court to
decide the case solely on the pleadings. This motion may be granted only if there are no
fact issues in dispute.
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