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Litigation Quick Take: Civil Lawsuit - January 14, 2021

Joni L Ploeger


Q:  What should I expect if a civil lawsuit has been filed against me? 

A:  The litigation process can be a lengthy affair. Usually a trial is scheduled a year or more after the petition was filed. There will be some initial discovery conducted, which usually consists of requests for documents, written admissions, and written information from the other party. Usually depositions are also conducted, and subpoenas are served for relevant documents. Experts may also be consulted for their opinions on particular matters related to the lawsuit. 

Once discovery is complete, your attorney may recommend filing a motion for summary judgment. This is a legal brief filed with the court explaining the reasons the plaintiff’s claims fail as a matter of law and are meritless. If this is granted by the court, you have won and litigation will terminate (unless the plaintiff appeals). 

If you do not make this type of motion or it is not granted by the court, you will move towards preparing your case for trial by finalizing experts, lining up witnesses to testify at trial, and determining exhibits to be offered at trial. At any stage, your case may be in a position to settle instead of proceeding to trial. Mediation can be a great tool to help settle the matter, which is discussed in this post  If your case does not settle, you will proceed to trial in front of a jury and/or judge. A verdict will be rendered by the judge or jury and either party may appeal if they do not like the decision.  


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