How Litigation Works

What can you expect if you are facing litigation in Michigan?

As a Michigan litigation law firm, we are routinely approached by business owners and other individuals who have questions about the litigation process. They know that taking legal action to enforce their rights is important, but they also have reservations about getting into a legal battle, and they have concerns about the time and cost involved.

To be clear, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to litigation. Different types of cases require different litigation strategies, being a plaintiff is very different from being a defendant, and the rules and procedures in state court and federal court are vastly different. With that said, there are some basic principles, and understanding these principles can help you make informed decisions as you approach your business or civil dispute:

1. The Basic Steps in Business and Civil Litigation

The basic steps involved in business and civil litigation are as follows:

  1. Pleadings – A lawsuit starts with the filing of a complaint; and, shortly after the complaint is filed, the defendant must file its answer. The complaint and answer are two types of pleadings; and, at this stage, it may be necessary or advisable to file counterclaims, crossclaims, and various other pleadings as well.
  2. Discovery – In litigation, both parties are entitled to request information and documents from one another. This is the discovery process. The scope of discovery can vary widely from one case to the next, with large-scale business disputes often involving voluminous document requests in addition to multiple rounds of interrogatories, depositions, and requests for admissions.
  3. Pre-Trial Practice – Prior to trial, both parties will engage in pre-trial practice. In addition to continuing to manage the discovery process, this involves filing motions (and responding to the other party’s motions) in an effort to narrow down the issues, limit the scope of discovery, deal with evidentiary matters, and attempt to secure a favorable pre-trial resolution.
  4. Settlement Negotiations – Plaintiffs and defendants can engage in settlement negotiations throughout the litigation process. If the parties reach a settlement, they will enter into a binding agreement and then stipulate to dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint.
  5. Trial – Finally, if a settlement has not been reached, the parties’ dispute will go to trial. Business and civil disputes may be tried before a judge or jury; and, in order to prevail, the plaintiff must typically prove its allegations by a preponderance of the evidence.

2. The Potential Outcomes of Business and Civil Litigation

If a lawsuit goes to verdict, the case can have a number of different outcomes. While some verdicts will favor a clear winner, if there are multiple issues involved (for example, if the plaintiff’s complaint contained multiple counts or the defendant filed counterclaims), it is possible that one or more issues could be resolved in each party’s favor. With regard to remedies, the options include:

  • Monetary damages
  • Injunctive relief (a court order prohibiting certain conduct)
  • Specific performance (a court order mandating certain conduct)

3. The Biggest Hurdles in Business and Civil Litigation

Plaintiffs and defendants can run into hurdles at all stages of the litigation process. Generally speaking, these hurdles arise because of the action (or inaction) of the other party, and as such, cannot be entirely predicted or controlled. For example, unreasonable or unduly burdensome demands during discovery can lead to significant costs and delays. However, by anticipating issues and responding promptly when issues arise, it is often possible to mitigate the costs involved.

4. Making Informed Decisions During the Litigation Process

During litigation in Michigan, it is crucial for litigants to work closely with their legal counsel so that they can make informed decisions as issues arise. While law firms can offer strategic advice and execute strategies on behalf of their clients, it is ultimately up to the litigants themselves to decide how they will move forward. At Maxwell Goss Law, effective attorney-client communication is a cornerstone of our approach to litigation, and our attorneys work closely with our clients to help them make informed decisions focused on streamlining the litigation process and reducing the risks and costs involved.

5. Deciding How and When to Resolve a Business or Civil Dispute

In any litigation proceeding, one of the biggest decisions to be made is how and when to resolve the dispute. When is the right time to approach settlement? What type of settlement are you willing to accept? What type of offer or counteroffer will send the right message in order to spur favorable negotiations? Does it remain in your (or your business’s) best interests to go to trial? These are questions that need to be constantly reevaluated during the litigation process, and consistently making sound decisions is essential to achieving your company’s desired outcome.

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    "Working with Max is like working with in-house counsel who knows the business and its strategies. That is more than I could have hoped for. I highly recommend him."

    – Civil Litigation Client

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    "Very pleased with how our case was handled. Max is very professional, direct and aggressive when he has to be. Highly recommend Mr. Goss!"

    – Civil Litigation Client

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    "It was a joy to work with such a straightforward, friendly and top notch professional attorney. We would certainly work with Mr. Goss again if the need arose."

    – Intellectual Property Client

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    "I highly recommend Maxwell Goss Law to assist you in your business legal matters due to his knowledge, experience, and value driven approach."

    – Business Dispute Resolution Client

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    "Max Goss is a thorough, kind and strong advocate for truth. His willingness to be available throughout the case provided peace and comfort in a sea of unknowns."

    – Civil Litigation Client

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    "He put all his effort into the case...made me feel comfortable...did his due diligence and we won!!  He is extremely loyal, great work ethic, and completely trustworthy."

    – Business Litigation Client

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    "I have worked with attorneys for over 30 years, Max delivers big firm results without the excessive billing that is sadly, an accepted norm these days."

    – Business Dispute Resolution Client

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    "Trust is hard to come by these days and I guarantee within minutes you will be at ease and feel comfortable discussing your issues. He can be trusted to have anyone’s best interest at hand."

    – Business Litigation Client

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    "Go with Max because we’ve worked with him and he delivered the exact solution we needed. It was great working with Max on our Business documents."

    – Business Counseling Client

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    "He was instrumental in developing a winning strategy. As outside general counsel to our client, I was very pleased to have Max on the team and would absolutely work with Max again."

    – Business Litigation Attorney

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