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The timeline of Litigation

Posted by Dirk Jordan | May 04, 2021 | 0 Comments

Litigation is daunting.  It is expensive and protracted. 
So why do it?  Because it is the mechanism our society has established to resolve disputes.  Dueling or a shootout in the street are disfavored ways of resolving dispute.  People were killed over silly things.
So if you have a disagreement and you cannot resolve it though negotiation, you either capitulate or file a lawsuit..  Few like litigation.  But sometimes you have no choice.
So what is the life of the lawsuit?  You can break it up any number of ways but I do so in four phases:
    1. Initiation.  you file the lawsuit and serve the opposing party, or you are the defendant and are served.  In Texas state court the Def must file an answer of some sort on the Monday after twenty days of the date of service.  If Def does not file an answer or otherwise make an appearance in court, the Ptf can take a default judgment. I explain more about this in a later article.
    2. Discovery.  There are initial disclosures due within thirty days of the answer being filed by Def.  Then other written discovery is exchanged.  This constitutes the longest period of litigation.  Once paper discovery is exchanged, depositions are scheduled. 
    3. Pre-trial/Mediation. After discovery is completed mediation is scheduled. In some Texas state courts it is mandatory that the parties mediate the case if they request a jury trial. Many cases settle at mediation. This is also the time the parties supplement their discovery responses, make all necessary disclosures, prepare their witnesses, and generally prepare for trial.
    4. Trial. This can last for one day to one month.
My next articles will go through these steps in more detail.

About the Author

Dirk Jordan

Dirk Jordan has been practicing law for over 28 years in both state and federal courts, as well as advising clients on effective business strategy.  He has been recognized by his peers for his contributions to the legal profession. He is also active in civic activities.  


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