When someone sues you, you have to file any related suits in response. Let’s say you have a breach of contract. They claim you failed to do something and cost them money. You claim they failed to do something and cost you money. They sue you. At that point you would need to bring your suit as well. All related things have to be brought together.
As the suit goes forward there is something called discovery. Discovery lets us collect documents, interview witnesses (including the plaintiff or defendant) under oath in something called Affidavits ask written questions under oath, all sorts of things.
As we go through discovery, if it turns out there really is no case, we can ask the Court to dismiss the other side’s portion of the case (or even just a portion of a portion of their case) through what is called an Application for summary judgment. If, as discovery continues there remains issues of fact to decide, then the case will go forward.
Lawyers are required to research cases before the file them. They have to make sure the case is not frivolous. A frivolous case is one in which there is clearly no appropriate dispute based on fact or law.
Sometimes it looks like a case is solid, and until you get through some or all of discovery, you don’t realize it isn’t. Sometimes though it is clear that a case is frivolous from the beginning, or the lawyer who brought the case realizes it is no longer appropriate and doesn’t respond accordingly. If that happens, then you can ask the Court for sanctions. Sanctions are penalties that the court orders. They can include dismissal of a case, covering unnecessary lawyers’ fees, and so on.
In addition, a lawyer who files a frivolous case can get in trouble with the disciplinary body that is responsible for managing lawyers. This is how you get compensated if it turns out the suit was entirely inappropriate. Normally you just get compensated in terms of lawyers fees you paid out though that you shouldn’t have had to pay. Sometimes it can be more if the Court feels that is appropriate.
A lot of disputes are factually correct, but when it comes to the law, the party simply cannot prove what they need to prove to the Court to convince them that they should win. That is the purpose of the system of alternative dispute resolution. Someone is going to win and someone is going to lose. It doesn’t mean the loser, even if the loser was the plaintiff, did anything wrong.
Let’s say, for example, you were in a car crash. The plaintiff believes that you did something to cause the crash so it is your fault and you should pay. You are the defendant and you believe you did nothing wrong. No one is lying about what happened. You and the plaintiff have different perspectives about what happened but that is normal in a car crash.
The insurance companies cannot reach an agreement so the case goes to trial. Now the Court has to look at the situation and decide who was responsible for the crash. The Court listens to all the facts and decides that both parties are equally responsible. No one lied, the Court made a decision based on what they heard. No one gets paid any money because of the equal responsibility.
If there were accusations that the plaintiff had done something wrong during the case, then the time to address it is actually during the case. Not after the fact. It is not possible to file an entirely new suit alleging the plaintiff did something wrong in the original suit.
- Losing does not mean the accusations were false.
- Any complaints about the conduct of the other party must occur during the original case.