Lawsuits: Civil Actions Filed in a Court of Law

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A lawsuit is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant’s actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint.

If the plaintiff is successful, judgment will be given in the plaintiff’s favor, and a variety of court orders may be issued to enforce a right, award damages, or impose a temporary or permanent injunction to prevent an act or compel an act.  A declaratory judgment may be issued to prevent future legal disputes.

A lawsuit may involve dispute resolution of private law issues between individuals, business entities or non-profit organizations.

A lawsuit may also enable the state to be treated as if it were a private party in a civil case, as plaintiff or defendant regarding an injury, or may provide the state with a civil cause of action to enforce certain laws.

  • The conduct of a lawsuit is called litigation
  • One who has a tendency to litigate rather than seek non-judicial remedies is called litigious

View other legal and law definitions in our Investigation Glossary.

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