The process of suing someone in court is known as civil litigation. Lawsuits can involve a wide array of legal issues including contract, employment, intellectual property, and real property laws. Civil litigation is complicated because the parties must understand the substantive law that applies to their situation as well as the procedural rules that govern how each side presents its case to the court. Ideally, both sides should be represented by an attorney who will strongly advocate for their position and help ensure that their rights are protected.
Matters We Handle
Our firm has experienced litigation attorneys who can handle a variety of matters, including business and corporate litigation, breach of contract and fiduciary duty cases, employment disputes, intellectual property disputes, entertainment and royalty disagreements, first amendment cases, and various other business conflicts.
We are skilled in highly complex commercial litigation including copyright and trademark disputes, civil fraud actions, securities litigation, and actions brought under the Civil Racketeering Act, also known as Civil RICO.
We also have a network of counsel attorneys with years of experience navigating the court system, who focus on specific areas of litigation, mediation, and arbitration.
What Are the Stages in a Civil Litigation?
The litigation process is not limited to what occurs in a courtroom. It encompasses activities before, during, and after a lawsuit. At each of these stages, there are prescribed steps and procedures which must be followed. Failure to comply with these rules could put that party at an extreme disadvantage in court, including having their case dismissed.
- Pre-suit investigation. Before filing a complaint in court, the plaintiff (i.e., the party claiming to be injured) should consult an attorney to discuss the merits of the case and gather relevant evidence.
- Choice of court. The suit must be filed in the right court which depends on the type of lawsuit, where the parties are located or the wrongful conduct occurred, the amount of the claim, and whether the parties previously agreed to litigate in a particular venue.
- Filing a complaint and summons. The plaintiff commences a lawsuit by filing a complaint and summons with the appropriate court. These documents give the defendant (the party being sued) notice of the lawsuit, the basis of the claim, and the deadline for responding.
- Answer. The defendant responds to the complaint by filing an answer or motion with the court.
- Discovery. This is the process of exchanging information with the other side. Each party will make various requests for evidence or to depose witnesses in order to prepare for litigation.
- Motions. The parties file motions with the court to request the judge to take action. For example, the judge may be asked to make a ruling on a legal issue or order the other side to provide information.
- Trial. When the previous steps have been completed, the case will go to trial with each side presenting its case to a judge or jury.
- Appeal. If a party believes there are legal grounds to challenge a decision of the judge or jury, it may file an appeal.
Our attorneys have extensive experience litigating in New York’s state and federal trial and appellate courts and are well-versed in how to handle every aspect of a case inside and outside the courtroom. While advocating for our clients during litigation, we also simultaneously explore client-approved settlement discussions to help achieve a satisfactory resolution of the case.
Are There Alternatives to Litigation?
Going to court is not the only way to settle a conflict. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution which is used in many business disputes. Typically, the parties voluntarily agree to arbitration in a contract before a conflict arises. In arbitration, a neutral third party (the arbitrator) hears the evidence and renders a decision or an “award.” The process is private and gives the parties more control over the proceedings than they would have in litigation. However, the right to appeal an award to a court of law may be more limited.
Mediation is another method of alternative dispute resolution whereby the parties seek to settle their matter with the help of a neutral third party agreed upon by the parties (the mediator). The mediator does not impose a decision on the parties; instead, the mediator facilitates discussion to help the parties reach an agreement. Like arbitration, it is a voluntary and private process. However, mediation can occur simultaneously with either arbitration and litigation.
While arbitration and mediation are out-of-court proceedings, it is still important to have a skilled attorney to present the best case and provide guidance in any settlement discussions.
How Should You Prepare for Civil Litigation?
The first step for both plaintiffs and defendants is to speak to an attorney. A lawyer can assess the strength of your case or defense and recommend next steps. The earlier this is done the better since there are various time limits, such as a statute of limitations or a procedural deadline to respond to a complaint. In addition, it is important to gather evidence while the facts are fresh, witnesses can remember what occurred, and records can be preserved. A lawyer can also advise you regarding how to avoid inadvertently damaging your case through your subsequent actions.
While litigation is ongoing, you should regularly communicate with your attorney to stay up to date on how the case is progressing and options for settlement. It is important to always provide all information to your attorney to avoid surprises and build a strong case.
Whether you wish to initiate a lawsuit, or one has been commenced against you, our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the litigation process. Our litigators take extensive care during the initial analysis period to pinpoint a case’s strengths and weaknesses. Our goal is to provide you with a clear assessment of your claims or possible liabilities.
At Romano Law, we pride ourselves on prompt communication and expert handling of time-sensitive and confidential communication. Our objective is to provide practical solutions to complex problems and establish an attorney-client relationship that will be long-lasting.
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