A Civil Case is lawsuit brought to enforce, redress, or protect rights of private litigants—the plaintiffs and the defendants—not a criminal proceeding. Civil Litigation is the process of resolving private disputes through the court system, usually resulting in a trial. There are a variety of things that can trigger a civil litigation case. A broken contract, business conflicts, landlord/tenant issues and problems with a will are all forms of civil litigation. Civil litigation suits can revolve around a crime or injury, too. Civil law courts provide a forum for deciding disputes involving tort (such as accidents, negligence, and libel), contract disputes, the probate of wills, trusts, property disputes, administrative law, commercial law, and any other private matters that involve private parties and other groups including government institutions. An action by an individual (or legal equivalent) against the attorney general is a civil matter, but when the state, being represented by the prosecutor for the attorney general, or some other agent for the state, takes action against an individual (or legal equivalent, including for example, a department of the government), this is public law, not civil law.
The objectives of civil law are different from other types of law. In civil law there is the attempt to right a wrong, fulfill obligations set in place by an agreement, or settle a dispute. If it is an equity matter, there is often a pie for division and it gets allocated by a process of civil law, possibly invoking the doctrines of equity. In public law the objective is usually deterrence, and retribution.
How can I find out if someone has been sued in court?
There are generally two different types of civil litigation or “lawsuits” that can be filed against a person, organization or corporation. The first is small claims court filings. Small claims are typically filed in a local court such as a municipal court where the alleged problem arose. These are cases involving relatively smaller amounts of money or “Damages” against the “Plaintiff”.
The second type of civil litigation is more serious in nature and can be filed at the common pleas or superior court. These cases tend to involve claims of greater damage to the plaintiff. There are many different types of civil cases ranging from domestic to personal injury or negligence. Federal courts also have jurisdiction over civil cases if there is a violation of federal statute or civil rights issues.
All of these court cases are considered public records and can be checked through various sources. Some courts can be checked through the court web site or in person by visiting the clerk of courts office in that particular city. A list of courts and free public records can be found on the Crimcheck web site at this link : http://crimcheck.net/freerecords.htm.
Depending on your need it can be advantageous to have a professional employment screening service such as Crimcheck conduct a thorough civil litigation check. Civil litigation can be complicated and understanding all of the terminology and definitions can be daunting.
Judgments and Liens
A judgment is synonymous with the formal decision made by a court following a lawsuit. At the same time the court may also make a range of court orders, such as imposing a sentence upon a guilty defendant in a criminal matter, or providing a remedy for the plaintiff in a civil matter.
A lien is a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation. The owner of the property, who grants the lien, is referred to as the lienor and the person who has the benefit of the lien is referred to as the lienee.
What is the difference between a judgment and a lien?
A judgment is usually made against the person who owns the property, while the lien is made against the property. In other words, the judgment comes first, then the lien. The lien must be satisfied (paid) first when the property is sold or transferred.
Terms to Know
Arbitration: If agreed upon by both parties, an outside arbitrator will step in pre-trial and decide the case.
Arbitrator: Third party from the plaintiff and defendant who acts as judge in a pre-trial setting, and whose decision would preclude the case from proceeding to court.
Bankruptcy: A request made under federal bankruptcy statutes requesting relief and protection for a debtor from their creditors. Bankruptcies may fall under different Chapters – differing chapters apply to different debts and debt situations.
Cross Claim: Additional claims filed among multiple defendants.
DBA: Doing Business As
Default Entry: Automatic entry of proceeding into a case docket.
Defendant/Respondent: Party accused of causing the injury (answers the suit).
Discharged: Bankruptcy was allowed and the debt discharged.
Discovery (D/S): Period of time in which parties produce and share evidence.
Dismissed: Petitioner did not meet the requirements to complete the bankruptcy process under the Chapter.
Dismissed with Prejudice: The court has determined that the case is dismissed and can not be re-filed again.
Dismissed without Prejudice: The court has determined that the current iteration of the case is dismissed, however, the parties would be allowed to re-file under different terms.
Dispositive: Relating to or bringing about the settlement of an issue.
Foreclosure: Suit filed by a lien holder or lender against a debtor for refusal or neglect to pay on the loan with the goal of reclaiming the property.
Hearing: Appearance by parties in court or chambers.
Joint Debtors: Spouses or business partners.
Judgment by Default: When one party neglects to appear as requested by the court, the court can enter a judgment in favor of the appearing party.
Litigation: The act of parties arguing a case in court.
Moot: Not applicable to the situation.
Motions: Requests or actions submitted via filing to the court by a party of a case. These are not decisions, as the court has the power to accept or deny the motion.
Pending: Bankruptcy still in process (report next court date).
Petitioner/Debtor: Party requesting protection of bankruptcy.
Plaintiff/Petitioner/Complainant: Injured or complaining party (brings the suit).
Praecipe: Civil equivalent to a criminal warrant. The court’s request for a party to appear and state why the case should or should not proceed.
Response: Filed answer to the court or opposing party’s last motion or brief.
Return of Service: Court’s request to a party returned or denied.
Settlement: Pre-trial agreement between the parties to terms prior to arbitration or trial.
Summary Judgment: Request for judge to end proceedings and rule on the case as it stands.
Summons: Court’s formal request for the party or parties to appear.
Terminated: Proceedings are completed.
Tort: Type of civil case including negligence cases as well as intentional wrongs which result in harm.
Trustee: Individual appointed by the court to handle negotiations with the debtor’s creditors and to ensure that the debtor complies with the discharge agreement of the bankruptcy. During the proceedings, the Trustee is in charge of the debtor’s finances.