Plaintiff’s Perspective: Missouri Associate Circuit Litigation
Plaintiff (Associate Circuit or Chapter 61)
Preparation for Lawsuit
We are currently investigating the case and the defendant, and we are preparing your file for litigation. Additionally, we are working on drafting the Complaint. We want to make sure we are fully prepared to move forward with litigation, and we will let you know when the Complaint is filed.
We have sent the Complaint in for filing. Once the court has processed the paperwork, we will receive a summons to be served on the defendant. We will then send the summons to the process server or sheriff to deliver to the defendant. Service be a quick process, or it may take some time if we cannot locate the defendant or the defendant avoids service. In other words, this stage in the process may take a couple weeks or a couple months, but it is rare that a defendant can not be served.
The summons will provide the Defendant with a date for an Answer Hearing, which is a date and time for the defendant to appear and admit or deny the claims in the petition. The answer hearing generally takes less than two minutes as it is simply the judge (or attorney) asking if they admit or deny the allegations. The judge does not take evidence or ask any other questions during the answer hearing. In leiu of appearing at the answer hearing,the Defendant may file a written answer. Furthermore, the answer hearing may be rescheduled for a later date if requested by the defendant or if service is not obtained prior to the answer hearing.
The discovery stage of civil litigation involves fact gathering. Both sides involved in the case are able to formally exchange information about the upcoming trial during discovery. This information includes a list of evidence and witnesses that will be presented during the trial. The discovery stage of a case helps prevent surprises during the trial and allows both sides to prepare. We will need some information from you during this stage, and we will be in touch to obtain this information. The discovery stage can take 2 to 6 months depending on the complexity of the case.
Stage five is mediation. Mediation is a method of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Mediation is essentially a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party. Unlike the litigation process, where a neutral third party (usually a judge) imposes a decision over the matter, the parties and their mediator ordinarily control the mediation process — deciding when and where the mediation takes place, who will be present, and how the mediator will interact with the parties. The mediation process is generally considered more prompt, inexpensive, and procedurally simple than formal litigation. It allows the parties to focus on the underlying circumstances that contributed to the dispute, rather than on narrow legal issues. The mediation process does not focus on truth or fault. Questions of which party is right or wrong are generally less important than the issue of how the problem can be resolved. We are hopeful we will be able to resolve the case during this stage, but if not, we will prepare for trial. Considering there are several people and schedules involved, it takes time to coordinate a mediation date. We will let you know of the time/date/location of mediation when it is set.
Prepare for Trial/Trial/Closing the Case
If we were unable to resolve your case in mediation, we plan to move forward and plan for trial. Preparing for trial takes several hours, and we will let you know of anything we need from you during this time period. We are at the mercy of the Court in terms of a trial date, and we will let you know as soon as we receive a trial date. From there, we will schedule a time to meet and prepare you for trial. This stage can take generally between 2 to 3 months depending on the Court’s docket.