On Behalf of Businesses
When your company goes to court, do not go it alone.
Most civil court cases involve two types of parties -- plaintiffs and defendants. The person who files a lawsuit against another person or company is the plaintiff. The plaintiff must prove their case with sufficient evidence. The person being sued is the defendant.
Both parties need experienced representation. The attorneys of Goldleaf Law have been litigating cases for decades. When you have been wronged and if the wrongdoer does not agree to make things right, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. If you have been sued, it is important to make a thorough defense and to bring any counterclaims in a timely fashion.
Civil cases can be filed for many reasons. Some of these cases involve:
Breach of contract
Property ownership and rights (real estate or personal property)
Landlord and tenant disputes
In most cases, the parties have the right to a jury trial, but may also have their case heard in a bench trial (a judge only, with no jury). In state court, the smallest cases are brought in Pennsylvania before magistrate judges. The next level of case is decided by arbitration panels. All other cases are heard by a judge. Certain cases are not eligible for trial by jury and may go straight to a judge without first going to a magistrate or arbitration panel.
A civil case is broken into four large parts:
Initial Filings (called "Pleadings"): This includes the Complaint (also, sometimes, a "Writ of Summons") by the plaintiff, and the Answer, New Matter, and, potentially, Counterclaims by the defendant. Pleadings can also include preliminary objections and other efforts to have the case thrown out or decided more quickly.
Discovery: Usually after the time for pleadings has ended (with certain exceptions), the parties then get to seek information from each other about the case. Discovery includes multiple possible parts, including (a) Interrogatories, (b) Document Requests, (c) Depositions, (d) Requests for Admission, and (e) Inspections of certain items, documents, and property.
Pretrial: Once discovery has ended, the court will set the final phases in motion, usually by issuing a Scheduling Order. The parties may attempt to end the case early with certain requests to the court, called Summary Judgment. If the case does not end on summary judgment, the parties may attempt to streamline the trial by agreeing ("stipulating") to certain issues. Either during or before pretrial, the assigned judge may also direct, or the parties may agree, to attempt to mediate and settle the case. Settlement can be attempted at every stage of the case, but no settlement occurs unless both parties agree to settle.
Trial: After all of the previous steps are completed, and if the case has not been settled or otherwise ended, the parties go to Trial. This is the type of proceeding most often depicted on television and usually involves (a) opening statements, (b) examining and cross-examining witnesses, (c) objections, and (d) closing arguments. The entire presentation may be either to a jury or a judge in most cases.
Each stage above has some smaller parts to it. For example, a trial may or may not include selecting a jury. Some courts also give the attorneys more control or less control over things like jury selection. Similarly, a trial by jury may not result in a jury decision if the evidence is insufficient or if the jury's verdict does not make sense in light of the evidence.
If a party loses their case at trial, they may also need to file post-trial motions and also desire to file an appeal, which allows the appeals court to look at any alleged errors.
In addition to standard litigation, some business disputes require arbitration. These cases are most often handled by the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") or the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services ("JAMS"). Our attorneys have experience with both AAA and JAMS.
Do you need to file a lawsuit? Have you been sued? The attorneys of Goldleaf Law have handled matters on behalf of businesses and business persons as both the plaintiff and the defendant, in both state and federal court. Contact us today, to discuss your case.