Hi. I’m Reed Bloodworth managing partner for
Bloodworth Law PLLC. Today I’m going to explain what litigation
is and how the litigation process works. You often hear the term. What does it mean? I’m going to walk you through the definition
of litigation the step-by-step process involved in litigation and finally the options available
to you throughout litigation. First what’s the definition of litigation? Litigation is the formal court process through
which one party attempts to enforce or defend its legal rights against another party in
a lawsuit. There are many types of litigation. There’s criminal litigation. There is bankruptcy litigation. Family law litigation. Business litigation. Trust and estate litigation. Personal injury litigation. There are a lot of types of litigation. Personally I practice business litigation
and estate and trust litigation. Business litigation is when two or more parties
to a business relationship or transaction become adverse to one another and one party
sues the other party to enforce their rights pursuant to that transaction or that relationship. Trust and estate litigation typically involves
beneficiaries of a trust or a will who believe they should have received more or at least
some inheritance from a will or a trust. So what are the steps of the litigation process? Well first people are often times surprised
to learn how long the litigation process can take. Even a simple litigation case can often times
go for a year. More complex litigation cases often go two
or three years. That being said the first stage of the litigation
process is the pleading stage. The pleading stage begins with a complaint. A complaint is a document filed by the plaintiff
in a lawsuit which lays out the factual allegations against the defendant or defendants. The defendant received this document. In Florida it has 20 days to respond. It will then file either an answer or a motion
to dismiss pertaining to the complaint. A motion to dismiss means that the defendant
is stating that the plaintiff’s allegations fail to give rise to a cause of action in
the State of Florida. There are various reasons one can do this
and eventually most lawsuits will get to an answer filed by the defendant. Once you have a version of the complaint that’s
accepted by the court and an answer in affirmative defenses filed by the defendant that closes
the pleadings stage of a lawsuit. The next stage of the lawsuit is the discovery
stage. The discovery stage is the longest stage of
litigation. This is the stage of litigation where facts
and information are exchanged between the parties of a lawsuit. There are multiple ways by which parties exchange
and obtain this information. There is written discovery. There are depositions. There are multiple types of written discovery. The common ones are request for production
where one party makes a list of documents and things they would like to receive from
the other party sends it to the other party. That party then supplies those documents. Another very common one is interrogatories. Interrogatories are simply written questions. One party will write the questions serve them
on the other party the other party will then serve responses to those interrogatories. Another written form that is very commonly
used is requests for admission. Request for admissions one party will write
out a statement serve it on the other party. That party will then either admit that the
statement is true or deny. The other type of common discovery is depositions. Depositions are when a lawyer sits down with
a witness to the case and asks them questions. There will be a court reporter present to
write down everything that is said. It’s all under oath. And often times those are videotaped. Those are the common types of discovery. As stated this is the part of the litigation
process that takes the longest amount of time. The next stage of litigation is the dispositive
motion stage. A dispositive motion is a motion which can
end a party of, or all of the lawsuit. Typically a dispositive motion is called a
motion for summary judgement. What this means is there are no longer any
facts in disputes. Through the discovery process it has come
to light that all of the facts are actually in agreement. And the only issue remaining to be resolved
is an issue of law. Issues of law are resolved by the judge. So one party will file their motion for summary
judgement the other party will obviously dispute it. Then the judge is going to render a ruling
and say that “yes I agree. There are no factual disputes and I’m rendering
a decision on either this particular part of the lawsuit or the entire lawsuit.” Or the judge is going to say, “I do not
agree with your motion. There are issues of fact and this case will
proceed to trial.” Obviously the next stage of litigation then
is the trial stage. There are two types of trial: You have a bench
trial and a jury trial. In a bench trial the judge is the person who
determines who is going to win or lose the lawsuit. In a jury trial it is the jury who will decide
who wins or loses the lawsuit. The plaintiff and defendant will each put
on their case. There’s an opening statement made by each
side then witnesses are presented and they answer questions before either the judge or
the jury. And then a closing takes place. After which either the judge is going to issue
a verdict or the jury is going to issue a verdict. Those are your types of trial. That is the litigation process. Now throughout that litigation process you
have other options available to you such as settlement. A case can settle at any time. In fact nearly all cases settle somewhere
around the percentage of 98 to 99 percent of cases settle. So at any point in time during that litigation
process I just described the parties can have settlement discussions and reach an agreement
that resolves the lawsuit. The other option is mediation. Mediation is a very effective form of resolving
lawsuits. Mediation is when parties hire a neutral third
party mediator to come and assist them in attempting to reach a resolution of a lawsuit. Mediation is so effective that it is usually
court ordered in most cases. In a mediation it usually takes place over
the course of a day. All of the attorneys and parties to the lawsuit
will meet in one place with the mediator. There will be a brief opening statement made
by everyone. The mediator will hear all the openings and
then the parties will disperse into separate rooms. The mediator will then meet with each party,
get their views on the case what that party is willing to accept or give to resolve the
lawsuit and will take the information to the other parties of the lawsuit. And this process will continue until hopefully
the parties reach an agreement they all can live with and the case is resolved. So throughout the process you can attempt
settlement discussions. Often times mediation occurs at or near the
end of the discovery stage but all of that is available to you throughout the entire
litigation process. So again my name’s Reed Bloodworth the founding
partner of Bloodworth Law PLLC. Give me a call. Let’s talk about what happened to you.