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Civil Litigation

When You've been Sued or Need to File a Complaint

When Conflicts Arise

A civil matter begins when one party (“Plaintiff”) initiates a formal, legal complaint against another party (“Defendant”) based on the Plaintiff’s belief that the Defendant is causing them harm in some manner. The Plaintiff in a civil matter is seeking some form of compensation for the damage done. Compensation can be awarded by a judge or jury in the form of money or the Plaintiff may only be seeking a court ordered injunction against the Defendant to prevent the Defendant from continuing the harmful action.

Types of Civil Cases

Contract Disputes

Contracts are nothing more than the terms and conditions that each party agrees to be responsible for to satisfy their part of a transaction. A contract dispute ensues when one party believes the other party has not upheld their part of the contract and seeks to have the contract honored.

Libel, Slander and Defamation

When another maliciously harms your reputation or good name, whether you are an individual or a business, you may have grounds to file a civil complaint against them and seek compensation.

Property Disputes

Conflicts can arise between landlords and tenants or between the neighbor to your right or your left. From property line disputes to seeking to get back a security deposit from a former landlord, property disputes can become heated disagreements between parties.

Civil Litigation Process

The Law Offices of Frank J. Santomauro, LLC follow the rules and procedures of the specific court our client either submits a complaint to or must defend themselves in a civil lawsuit. Local, state and federal civil lawsuit cases are carefully prepared and filed always consulting with and keeping our client informed during the entire process.


Pleadings are the initial documents each party presents explaining and/or defending the conflict or dispute in the civil matter at hand. A civil litigation matter begins when a plaintiff , or petitioner, files a complaint at the court and serves that complaint to the defendant, or responder. The complaint describes the harm caused by defendant (what was done or not done) and the legal basis for seeking to hold the defendant responsible.

The defendant, either on their own (pro se) or through a legal representative, submits their answer, or response, to the court and the plaintiff. The answer contains the defendant’s version of the complaint and must be filed within a specific time frame as dictated by the court it was filed in. An answer may also include a counterclaim against the plaintiff and demand for a jury.


Prior to a civil trial, each party in a civil matter may motion, make a request to the court, to ask the court to rule or act. Motions can vary depending on the need of the party submitting it. A motion may request specificity about the law or facts concerning the matter, or it may seek clarification or resolution of a procedural dispute between the parties. Motions may also seek to dismiss some part or all of a lawsuit, and other motions may ask the court to exclude certain evidence from trial.


Discovery is the formal process by which the plaintiff and defendant share relevant information with each other or from third parties usually in the form of questions called interrogatories. Witness accounts, documentation, facts of law, and other pertinent material is crucial for each side to present so they can assess the merits or prepare a defense against that which was presented.

As each side prepares and shares its discovery, depositions may be requested from either side to record the testimony of anyone involved in the law suit. Depositions are recorded and taken under oath and can be used at a trial rather than having the witness testify in person.


Many civil lawsuits never make it to trial. During the discovery phase a case may be dismissed or the parties may agree to a settlement. 


A trial can involve only a judge deciding the case (known as a “bench trial”), or having a jury listen to both sides of the case and come to a verdict. Unlike a criminal trial where a defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” in a civil trial, the judge or jury’s decision is based on either a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning one side was more convincing than the other, or the plaintiff presented “clear and convincing evidence” that more likely than not, the defendant did harm to the plaintiff and must be held liable usually resutling in some form of compensation or damages being awarded to the plaintiff.


When the verdict is in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant has a few options to consider. The defendant may: file an appeal; motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict requesting the court to disregard a jury’s verdict; or motion the court requesting a new trial thus setting aside the jury’s verdict.

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Law Offices of Frank J. Santomauro, LLC
142 South Main Avenue
Scranton, PA 18504







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