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Litigation Series Part 1: When Does Litigation Start?

This is the first blog of a 4-part series on litigation. We’re going to begin here with the question When does litigation start? That’s a frequently asked question. And then the second part of this series we’ll talk about discovery and the discovery process. Third part of this series, we’re going to talk about what dispositive motions are. And then the fourth part of this series we’ll talk about when litigation ends. So let’s get into it. When litigation starts is when a complaint is filed, that’s technically the beginning of a lawsuit. So if you’re the plaintiff and you’re the one that’s suing somebody, then you will be filing a lawsuit against someone else. And you do that by having your, most of the time, attorney draft a complaint against the other person(s).

Once the complaint is drafted, then it’s filed with the court and then you must have it served on the defendants. That is done by a process server. They go out like you see on TV and in the movies, they have to find the person, the defendant, and actually personally serve them with the paperwork. They wait outside of people’s houses or they knock on the door and they try to get the person to answer so they can serve the paperwork on them and the paperwork they’re serving on them is the complaint, and what’s called a summons, which is an order to appear in court. Then in Clark County, Nevada for district Court, you have 21 days to respond to the complaint.

If you’re the defendant, once you’re served with a complaint, you have 21 days to respond. You have 21 days to decide if you’re going to answer the complaint. Or maybe you’re going to file a motion to dismiss because it’s improper in some way. Either way you’re going to have 21 days to do that. Most of the time within that 21 days is when you would look for an attorney to do that, to draft the answer or draft a motion to dismiss. That’s why I say you have 21 days to respond to the complaint, keyword respond. You have to answer it unless have a basis to file a motion to dismiss and a motion to dismiss basically is telling the court this is an improper case and there’s only a few basis that you can use to file your motion to dismiss. I don’t want to go into detail on this because there is a lot of information on the basis of a motion to dismiss and it’s a bit technical and not necessary for the purpose of this blog. Once the response is filed, then we’re in business, then we’re moving. The next thing that happens in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County, Nevada (other States may have different timelines and may have different procedures, the information in this blog only refers to Clark County, Nevada, Eighth Judicial District Court.) Once all defendants have answered the complaint, then there needs to be what’s called a 16.1 conference. This is essentially a conference where all sides get together. Usually it’s just the attorneys communicating with one another to come up with what’s called a discovery plan.

That’s the next blog, we’re going to get into the discovery process in general. Before you even get to the discovery process, you’ve got to come up with a plan about how you’re going to handle it and what the timelines are for the discovery process. It’s pretty easy to agree with the other side most of the time because it’s pretty standard in terms of what everyone is going to agree to for discovery which includes depositions, what’s called interrogatories, request for production of documents, requests for admissions. Once you come up with a 16.1 plan, you submit it to the court and the court has to approve it with the new rules. Generally, the attorneys have to appear in front of the court after the plan has been submitted. At that time the judge will approve the plan and send out a discovery scheduling order along with a trial order, which explains when you’re set for trial and certain deadlines that have to do with the trial.

Once this occurs, we’re going onto the discovery phase and I’m going to talk about the discovery phase in next blog. Please reach out if you have any questions or you have litigation you need to have handled by an attorney.

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