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Companies often face complex disputes with other business, individuals, or government entities, which require an understanding of both business issues and the industry of the client. Whether your dispute involves breach of duty, finances, insurance, partnership, business formation, or intellectual property, the litigation team at Mamdani Law will fight for you and your business.
The pleadings are the formal allegations by the parties of their respective claims and defenses.
The Complaint. The complaint is the first pleading filed by a plaintiff which initiates a lawsuit. A complaint sets forth the relevant facts and legal cause of action that the filing party believe are sufficient to support a claim along with a prayer for relief and damages. A complaint generally includes caption and heading, jurisdiction and venue, parties, definition, cause of action, injury, and demand for relief.
The Answer. The answer is a form of pleading filed by the defendant and served upon the plaintiff which the defendant admits or denies the specific allegations set forth in the complaint. Generally, when an answer is filed, it constitutes a general appearance by the defendant. In some instances, in lieu of an answer or a reply, the defendant may file counter-claims against the plaintiff, alleging the plaintiff has harmed the defendant. The party may request that the other clarify or correct deficiencies in its legal theories or factual allegations or the party may ask the Court to dismiss part or all of the suit.
Discovery. The discovery process is usually the longest part of the case. It can be defined as the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they will present at trial. The discovery process begins soon after a lawsuit is filed and often does not stop until shortly before trial. During this process, the parties ask each other and third parties for information about the facts and issues of the lawsuit. Discovery can also be done through a method called deposition. Depositions are used to learn more about the facts of a case and about what the different witnesses contend happened. Deposition is done by an attorney questioning the witnesses under oath and the witnesses' answers will be recorded by the court reporter. The witnesses' answer recorded by the court reporter can be used during trial in place of a witness who may not be able to attend the trial.
Witnesses. A witness is someone who, either voluntarily or under compulsion, provides testimonial evidence either oral or written of what he or she knows or claims to have knowledge relevant to an event or the matter of interest. A witness can sometimes be the party of the lawsuit. If the witness refuses to cooperate, then a subpoena may be issued to compel the person to appear at court.
Expert witnesses are ones who has specialized knowledge relevant to the matter of interest. Often claims or defense requires support from expert witnesses to explain technical information or to validate an argument. Each party might may use one or more expert witnesses to testify about the a specific claim or defense. Expert witnesses often work very closely with the party's attorneys and representatives to prepare the party's case.
A trial is a formal examination of evidence before the Court. At trial, the parties are giving a chance to present evidence in support of their case to the Court. Some trials, do not involve a jury and are decided by the judge alone, this is known as "bench trials." Other trials are jury trials. In a jury trial, both parties question potential jurors during a selection process known as "voir dire."
At the start of trial, each party presents its opening statement which is a statement of what party believes the facts of the case and law are and how the Court should rule on the matter. After opening statements are completed, the parties may present evidence to support their case or to disprove the opposing side's argument. The parties can introduce documents and exhibits or call a witness to testify to support their argument. After the witness concluded his or her testimony, the opposing side will have an opportunity to ask the witness questions, this is called cross-examination.
Once all of witnesses have testified and all evidence have been submitted presented, the record will be closed and the trial will be over. Once the trial is over, no additional evidence may be submitted to the Court. After the trial is over, the Court will instruct the jury on the law to be applied to the evidence. The jury then deliberates and reaches a decision or verdict on the case.
An appeal is a process in which cases are reviewed. Appeals functions as both a process of clarify and interpreting law and a process of error correction.
Generally, during an appeal, a party request a higher court to review the trial court proceeding. Unlike trial, the parties present their arguments in briefs which are submitted to the appellate court along with the record of evidence from the trial court. Appellate courts do not conduct independent fact-finding, except under unusual circumstances. The appellate court will either affirm the verdict if it find that there was no error in the trial court proceeding or reverse the verdict or order the trial court to conduct a new trial. The appellate court announces its decision in a document called an opinion.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Settlement. A settlement is a formal resolution of a legal dispute without court proceedings. There are some advantages to settling a legal dispute:
- You will likely receive your financial compensation faster;
- You will have less restrain on your time by avoiding court proceedings; and
- You will avoid attorney's costs and fees.
However, a settlement is not for everyone. Sometimes going to court is your best or only option. For cases challenging the constitutionality of a law or if a suit is filed so that a plaintiff can satisfy a personal and profound sense of right or wrong, settling would not be a good option. There are some advantages to go to court:
- You will have the ability to receive the full amount in compensation;
- You will be able to compel the defendant to pay compensation, if the verdict is in your favor; and
- You will be able to appeal, if the verdict is against you.
Arbitration. Arbitration is an adversarial proceeding in which the parties select a neutral third party, called an "arbitrator," to resolve their dispute. There are some advantages of arbitration:
- Avoids Hostility. In arbitration, parties are encouraged to participate fully which result in a peaceful environment for the parties to work together rather than hostile to one another.
- Quicker. On average, arbitration typically concluded within a year, while a lawsuit can take 18 months to three (3) years to complete in a court proceeding;
- Cheaper. Although arbitration is becoming more costly, it is still less expensive than a lawsuit because the process is quicker and less complicated.
- Confidential. Unlike trial, which are public, Arbitration proceedings are generally held in private. And parties sometimes agree to keep the proceedings and terms of the final resolution confidential.
Mediation. The parties may be able to negotiate a settlement without outside help, but it is common to involve a neutral third party, known as a "mediator." In mediation, the disputing parties work with the mediator to resolve the disputes. The mediator helps the parties find common ground and deal with unrealistic expectation. There are some advantages of mediation:
- Quicker. Mediation typically only takes days or weeks;
- Cheaper. Mediation is vastly less costly than a lawsuit
- Confidential. Unlike trial, which are public, mediation is confidential, which means there are no records or transcript during the mediation and any evidence provided cannot be used later or revealed.
- Better Results. Parties usually report better outcome as a result of mediation.