Who gets involved in litigation?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 28, 2009

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It can be anyone, and increasingly is.

Disputes can arise between two individuals, such as a disagreement between you and the contractor who remodeled your home with inferior material, or two drivers who are involved in an auto accident, or a couple contemplating a divorce. Litigation to resolve the dispute sometimes involves only individuals. In the construction case the litigation would determine if the remodeling was done properly, how much it would cost to do the job right, what damages you suffered because of the improper construction, and who owes what to whom. In the divorce case, the court would decide who gets what, how much support or alimony must be paid, and decide issues of child custody and visitation, if the parties do not agree and settle on their own.

Litigation also may be used to resolve a dispute between an individual and a business, perhaps over a defective product, or a lease of property, or between two businesses who may be having a dispute over patent rights or the terms of a contract between them.

Litigation sometimes involves disputes between an individual or business with a Government agency. Perhaps the town is trying to “condemn” some real estate you own in order to build a new school, or the state is trying to deny you a license, or you’re having a dispute about the amount of taxes you owe the IRS.

Even two governmental bodies can get into litigation, as when New York and New Jersey each recently claimed Ellis Island.

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