Civil, Trial and Appellant Litigation

— Litigation Vocabulary —

Acquit: the act of freeing a person from the charge of an offense by means of a decision, verdict or other legal process; to discharge

Action: a civil judicial proceeding whereby one party prosecutes another for a wrong done or for protection of a right or prevention of a wrong; requires service of process on adversary party or potentially adversary party

Ad damnum: clause of a pleading alleging amount of loss or injury

Adversary: An opponent. The defendant is the plaintiff’s adversary

Class action: When different persons combine their lawsuits because the facts and the defendant are so similar. This is designed to save Court time and to allow one judge to hear all the cases at the same time and to make one decision binding on all parties. Class action lawsuits would typically occur after a plane or train accident where all the victims would sue the transport company together in a class action suit. Recent class actions have occurred against tobacco companies

Comparative negligence: A principle of tort law which looks at the negligence of the victim and which may lead to either a reduction of the award against the defendant, proportionate to the contribution of the victim’s negligence, or which may even prevent an award altogether if the victim’s negligence, when compared with the defendant, is equal to or greater in terms or contributing to the situation which caused the injury or damage

Contested action: an action which involves disputed issue(s) of fact or law

Corroborate: to strengthen; to add weight by additional evidence

Costs: The statutory sum awarded to the successful party when a judgment is entered.

Damages: Monetary compensation or indemnity for wrong or injury caused by the Violation of a legal right. 1. Compensatory damages – Reimbursement for actual loss or injury. 2. Exemplary damages – Monetary award by way of punishment for injury caused by aggravated circumstances or malice, in addition to compensation for the injury. 3. Punitive damages – Monetary compensation awarded in excess of ordinary damages, as punishment for a gross wrong.

Defendant: the party being sued or the party accused of committing the offense charged

Equitable action (equity matter): an action which may be brought for the purpose of restraining the threatened infliction of wrongs or injuries, and the prevention of threatened illegal action; case in which payment of money damages will not be adequate compensation

Evidence: a form of proof or probative matter legally presented at the trial of an issue by the acts of the parties and through witnesses, records, documents, concrete objects, etc., for the purpose of inducing belief in the minds of the court or the jury

Fair preponderance: Level of proof in a civil action; more than half; more convincing.

Homicide: the killing of one human being by another

Judgment: A determination of the rights of the parties in an action or special proceeding. A judgment shall refer to and state the result of a verdict or decision, or recite the circumstances on which it is based

Negligence: conduct which falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm

Sanction: a penalty or punishment provided as a means of enforcing obedience to a law, rule or code; also, an authorization

Voluntary manslaughter: Manslaughter resulting from an intentional act done without malice or premeditation and while in the heat of passion or on sudden provocation

Wrongful death: a death that results from a wrongful act or from negligence; a death that can serve as the basis for a civil action for damages on behalf of the dead person’s family or heirs