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.