Minnesota Litigation: Basic Terms Explained

Litigation can be an overwhelming prospect.  It involves a variety of different stages and terms that are unfamiliar to people who do not work in litigation often.

Basic Litigation Terms

Here is a brief guide to some of the most basic litigation terms used in Minnesota:

  • Parties: The parties to litigation are just the different people, companies, or entities that are plaintiffs, defendants, intervenors, etc. in the lawsuit.
  • Plaintiff: The plaintiff is the person, company, or entity that brought the lawsuit.
  • Defendant: The defendant is the person, company, or entity that the lawsuit has been brought against.
  • Third-Party: A third-party can be a plaintiff or a defendant.  This is another person, company, or entity brought into the litigation by the plaintiff or defendant.
  • Discovery: Discovery is the process used by lawyers in a lawsuit to find out the facts and background for the case.
  • Interrogatories: Interrogatories are written questions that the parties in a lawsuit send to other parties to find out more about the case.  It is an opportunity to find out what the other side’s arguments or versions of the facts will be.
  • Requests for Production: Requests for Production are written requests the parties send to each other to request copies of important documents or evidence.
  • Deposition: A deposition is a recorded question and answer period.   The witness takes an oath to tell the truth.  The attorneys then ask questions while a court reporter records all the answers.  Depositions are somewhat like a trial except that the judge and jury are not present.
  • Motion: A motion is a request that the attorneys or parties make of the court.  A lawyer might make a motion for the court to force or compel a party to answer discovery, for example.
  • Summary Judgment: Summary judgment is a special kind of motion.  One of the parties asks the court to determine that a trial is unnecessary and to find for that party.