civil litigation      

Civil litigation can be confusing, costly and time consuming, especially if you are trying to navigate the situation on your own. Our experienced attorneys can walk you through the process on matters such as:

Civil litigation is defined as suing someone for money damages and the following will outline some of the major points to consider and what you can expect in Livingston County when a lawsuit is filed on your behalf or if you need to defend one.

First, if the amount in dispute is over $25,000, Circuit Court Judge David Reader or Judge Hatty will preside over the case. Judge Brennan, Judge Carol Sue Reader or Judge Geddis will handle the case if the amount over dispute is less than $25,000.

You can expect the following steps to take place if you are involved in a civil litigation.


After an initial consultation with our office, a complaint would be prepared on your behalf. The complaint outlines your legal position and lays out your causes of action against the defendant in the civil lawsuit. The complaint is the first major step in notifying the defendant that you are seeking monetary damages against them.


Once the Defendant has received or was served with a copy of the complaint outlining the causes of action against them, they have a certain number of days to respond to the allegations. If no answer is filed and no action is taken by the defendant then the Plaintiff may seek a default judgment for the amount of damages that were initially requested.


The pretrial is a court hearing where the attorneys meet with the Judge and/or the Judge's law clerk to examine the claims made in the case. The pretrial is also used as a scheduling conference and dates are set for trial, mediation and case evaluation. Also discussed is whether any motions may need to be filed and the like. This is on occasion, a time when preliminary settlement negotiations occur between the parties.

Mediation/Case Evaluation

There are different methods utilized by the Livingston County Courts when attempting to resolve cases prior to actually having a full blown trial. Sometimes the Judge will ask the attorney's opinion regarding alternate dispute resolution methods. Other times the Court simply orders the parties to attend and participate in Court proceedings. Normally one or more neutral attorneys will hear a summary of the case and make recommendations in an attempt to come up with an agreed upon resolution. These forms of outside assistance are effective and resolve a significant number of cases.


Sometimes attorneys will subpoena parties prior to trial to obtain their sworn testimony which is commonly referred to as a deposition. This type of situation is commonly used to ensure the testimony at trial is congruent with their testimony at a deposition and/or to impeach them with their inconsistencies.


If the case has failed to reach a mutual agreement of settlement, then the case will proceed to trial whereby the plaintiff will have to show by preponderance of the evidence that their legal issues and facts outlined in their initial complaint are true. The Rules of Evidence apply and each party will be able to call relevant witnesses to testify on their behalf. The burden for the plaintiff is lower in a civil case than in a criminal case. A familiar example of this standard is the O.J. Simpson case. He was not convicted in the criminal case where the standard burden of proof was "beyond a reasonable doubt". However this standard is lower in a civil lawsuit and resulted in civil damages being paid to the families of the victims.

Our office has the experience to counsel you on how to handle these issues and can provide the legal assistance necessary to obtain an optimum outcome.