Pretrial motions can effectively resolve many vital questions regarding your lawsuit. A motion is essentially a request filed by your lawyer with the court requesting a ruling on a certain matter. If the motion’s ruling could end the litigation and the dispute prior to trial, it’s referred to as a dispositive motion. If the ruling is simply on an incidental question that comes up during litigation, it’s referred to as a non-dispositive motion. The information given below serves to provide you with a general idea of which dispositive motions are capable of ending your case prior to trial, and the manner in which these motions operate.
Motion to Dismiss
A dismissal motion is often filed in the initial stages of the litigation, prior to when the parties have carried out the discovery process. The material displayed through the complaint and any complaint exhibits are the motion’s central focus, which is brought forward when the defendant has a conviction that the complaint isn’t legally valid. When deciding a dismissal motion’s validity, the court must examine the facts brought forth in the complaint in a light that is most beneficial to the plaintiff.
The dismissal motion is typically based on one or more of the legal deficiencies illustrated below:
Lack of subject matter jurisdiction
If the court lacks the power to rule on a controversy, the case is subject to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. For instance, state law may designate that a special court determines specific matters, such as when a probate court’s services are required, as opposed to a regular civil court, to rule on a complaint that involves a will’s interpretation.
Lacking Personal Jurisdiction
The court doesn’t have jurisdiction to rule on choices that affect the defendant in a personal manner. The court lacks jurisdiction over the defendant if this party is without sufficient minimal contact with the location at which the lawsuit was filed. For instance, if an individual was involved in an accident in a motor vehicle in Yellowstone National Park, but you reside in Florida and the suit involving you was filed in Vermont, you’d have a valid reason to argue that the Court of Vermont does not have jurisdiction over you.
“Venue” is a term used in reference refers to the court’s location in particular. States designate statutes that set forth the state’s locations where one can be sued. If you aren’t sued in any of those locations, the lawsuit’s site isn’t appropriate. A venue might be deemed legally improper even if the court does have personal jurisdiction over you. A typical solution to this issue isn’t to dismiss the case, but to enter an order the case is to be transferred to the proper venue.
Insufficiency of Process or Service of Process
A case might be dismissed if a technical defect is present in the case’s summons, which is rare, or if you weren’t served properly with your complaint and summons, which is more common, insufficiency of process or service of process may apply. Service may be deemed improper for a variety of reasons, so make sure you inform your family lawyer about how your service took place and if any strange circumstances came up during this process so that your lawyer can deem whether this service mishap could lead to your case’s dismissal.
Failing to State Any Claim Upon Which Relief Might Be Granted
In certain cases, your lawyer might come to the conclusion that the facts laid out in your complaint don’t state a legal claim for relief. For instance, the complaint might allege that you acted negligently in some way that caused injury to the plaintiff. However, legally, you may not be held liable to take care for the plaintiff in the circumstances illustrated in the complaint. If you have no legal responsibility, you can’t be held liable for any of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Judgment Motion Summary
In certain cases, the essential facts aren’t disputed and require that a judgment is entered for a single party, which is referred to as a “summary judgment”, as it ends the case summarily prior to the trial. The reason for a trial is to have either the judge or the jury decide upon what the facts of the case actually are. If the facts aren’t disputed, no trial is necessary. Alternatively, the party who holds a belief that the facts that are undisputed can compel a ruling that is favorable to him or her must file a “motion for summary judgment”. This type of motion requests that the court considers the facts to be undisputed and to apply the law to these facts, and it argues that legally, a judgment must be provided for the party who brought the motion before the court.
Described as “a blunt instrument”, summary judgment can abruptly end litigation. To safeguard against a summary judgment, the opposing party has the burden of furnishing the court with evidence that would be allowed at trial, indicating that the essential case facts are disputable. If the court is in agreement with the party who opposes the motion and deems that the essential facts are disputable, the court can’t enter it’s judgment and is required to send the case forward to trial.
Default Judgment Motion
If a defendant doesn’t satisfactorily file a motion to dismiss or answer the complaint within the set time limit dictated in the summons, the defendant is, in fact, in default. When a default has been incurred by a defendant, the plaintiff in the case can request that the court clerk notes this fact in the case’s file, which a procedure known as “entry of default”.
Entry of Default
“Entry of Default” is a very serious matter, as it means that due to the defendant’s failure to appear, he or she won’t be permitted to contest his or her liability towards the plaintiff. Alternatively, the sole question in dispute is the amount that the plaintiff should be provided by the defendant in damages. The court will send notice to the non-appearing defendant that states that a default has been entered against him or her.
If a defendant who is in default acts quickly, has a viable excuse, he or she may be permitted to persuade the court to vacate (undo) or set aside the entry of default for the case’s file. Courts have a significant preference for cases to be decided on it’s merits, which often persuades them to grant the motion to vacate an entry of default. However, in particular cases, a court will deem that the defendant’s reasons aren’t adequate and refuse to either vacate the default entry or set aside the default.
“Sua Sponte” Dismissal
Of one’s accord or voluntarily is the meaning of the term, “sua sponte”. A sua sponte dismissal refers to a court’s issuance of motion for dismissal, but not a request for dismissal entered by either lawsuit party. Typically, a judge will order a sua sponte dismissal if the judge deems that the trial holds significant problems. For example, a judge might dismiss a case when he or she comes to the realization that his or her court lacks jurisdiction.
Are you still confused? Consult a lawyer for free!
No matter how intelligent or educated you may be, the law can boggle the minds of anyone, and a competent attorney has the ability to assist you with making sense of your legal choices. Personal injury lawyers are specifically trained to seek opportunities to steer clear of trials or to weaken the opposing party’s arguments by employing legal motions. It’s in your best interest to seek the advice of a suitable lawyer for a complimentary legal consultation prior to acting on any vital legal choices.