Mapping The Five Stages of a Lawsuit

(1) The Name Calling Phase (Pleadings).  The Pleadings stage of the lawsuit consists of the petition filed by the plaintiff and the answer and other responses filed by the defendant. 

(2) The Information Grab (Discovery).  Once the pleadings have established the parameters of the lawsuit, the parties start the discovery process of compelling information from the other side, which can be significant when the information sought is sensitive business information.  

(3) The Knock-Out Punch (Dispositive Motions).  After discovery is completed, one side (usually the defendant) usually attempts to “knock-out” the other side’s claims by filing a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the case should be dismissed because the other party cannot present sufficient evidence to establish each and every element of the underlying claim. 

(4) Bare-Knuckle Boxing (The Trial).  If both parties survive the knock-out punches and a settlement cannot be reached, the parties must resolve their lawsuit with a trial where each party does whatever it can do to win. 

(5) The Neverending Story (The Appeal).  Even if you win at trial, the losing party may appeal the judgment and, if successful, push the litigation back into a prior stage.