Baltimore Civil Litigation Attorney
Ken C. GauveyPersonal Injury Attorney
Civil litigation is a legal dispute between two or more parties that seek money damages or performance of a specific action rather than criminal sanctions. Lawyers who practice civil litigation represent parties in trials, hearings and arbitrations before administrative agencies, foreign tribunals and federal, state and local courts.
Civil litigation encompasses a wide range of disputes.
Some common types of civil litigation are:
Wrongful termination, discrimination, and other violations of federal and state employment laws;
Family and medical leave act complaints;
Wage and hour complaints;
The Life Cycle of Litigation
Civil litigation attorneys represent plaintiffs and defendants and manage all phases of the litigation process. The process can be divided into seven phases:
Initial Case Investigation/Assessment
The initial case investigation is undertaken to determine in the plaintiff’s case whether there is sufficient evidence to file a lawsuit; it is undertaken in the defendant’s case to determine what evidence exists to defend a potential suit. The process may include locating witnesses, taking their statements, interviewing the client, collecting documents, and investigating the facts. The attorneys representing the disputing parties often engage in discussions to try to resolve the matter to avoid going to trial.
Litigation attorneys draft diverse pleadings and motions on behalf of the plaintiff or defendant. Plaintiff attorneys will draft a summons and complaint to start the lawsuit. Defense attorneys collaborate with the client to investigate the allegations and develop responses. Litigation attorneys also draft a variety of motions, e.g. motions to strike, dismiss or change venue and motions for judgment on the pleadings.
Discovery is the longest and most labor intensive stage. During Discovery, the parties exchange relevant information. Litigators use a variety of methods to gather the information, including sending written questions to each party (interrogatories), taking statements under oath (depositions), and examining the physical evidence. They also collect and analyze information gathered during e- discovery, or retrieval of electronic documents. Discovery enables the litigators to gather key information, identify issues and craft a trial strategy.
In the pre-trial stage, litigators consult with and counsel clients, retain expert witnesses and continue to develop a trial strategy. They also depose experts and key witnesses, prepare trial exhibits; and draft and argue pre-trial motions.
Most lawsuits filed in civil court are settled prior to trial. In the trial stage, litigators identify strengths and weaknesses in a case, prepare witnesses, develop arguments, and draft and argue trial motions.
At trial, litigation attorneys conduct “voire dire,” (questioning of prospective jurists), choose a jury and present their case. They give opening and closing statements, examine and cross-examine witnesses and, through testimony and evidence, present what they hope will be a compelling rendering of the facts for the judge or jury. Litigation attorneys also prepare jury instructions for the judge to deliver and conduct post-trial interviews of the jury.
Most cases are settled out of court in order to eliminate the risk and cost of a trial. Settlement discussions can occur at any time including prior to filing suit and after trial. During such discussion, litigators engage in negotiations with the parties. Sometimes, settlement discussions can happen before a mediator, or even a judge, or they can be as simple as calling the other party’s attorney on the phone.
If the case is not settled in a client’s favor, the litigation attorney may appeal the case. Attorneys identify and preserve issues for appeal, develop strategies, gather evidence, draft documents and present oral arguments before appellate courts. Most cases are not appealed.
Not every lawsuit passes through each stage of the litigation cycle. The goal of a litigator is to reach a successful outcome for their clients. The majority of lawsuits are settled prior to trial. Those that do go to trial, the majority are not appealed.
The duration of a lawsuit can range from a few months to several years. Complex civil litigation often takes years to pass from pre-suit investigation through trial/settlement.
Communication is Key
We understand the peace of mind that comes with knowing the status of your case. Through our proprietary case management system, “Track Your Case,” Our clients have 24/7 access to this information. We seek to deliver outstanding results without any negative surprises when it comes to expenses.
We also understand how important it is for clients to be able to get a hold of their attorney at a moment’s notice. We make ourselves available for our clients’ needs.
If You Are a Party to a Civil Litigation Matter in Maryland
If you are having a dispute and are thinking of taking it to court, or are being sued, we invite you to contact the Law Practice of Ken C. Gauvey for a complimentary consultation.