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Will Your Civil Litigation Effort Become A Complex Case?

Complex civil litigation is a designation that's sometimes assigned to cases that pose extraordinary challenges. This can represent a problem for the court, the plaintiffs and the defendants, and it has implications for how things will be handled. The following will go into the idea of what a complex case is and how that might impact your situation.


Although the states and the federal courts each have their own definitions, complex litigation usually refers to a case that requires additional management from the court. Suppose you're dealing with a lawsuit that involves the laws of several states and the federal government. You might end up dealing with both state and federal courts in each of those jurisdictions.

This presents a massive management challenge for the courts. For example, no one wants to go through the discovery process in each of the courts that have jurisdiction. That means the most efficient solution is to unify the discovery process. Consequently, discoverable materials have to be shared with courts, plaintiffs and defendants in each of the jurisdictions. That can get very challenging if certain discoverable materials aren't admissible in some of the other courts.

Types of Complex Cases

If a case involves multiple defendants and/or multiple plaintiffs, it's probably well on its way to being deemed a complex case. Coordination among the various parties can streamline the court process, but it's also important to ensure there aren't conflicts among the parties that might endanger the rights of others. While there might be an option to consolidate the case into a class action, there will be many scenarios where each party will prefer to maintain the representation of a different civil litigation lawyer.

Cases may also be declared complex if they involve numerous pretrial motions. For example, there may be questions about the admissibility of many separate pieces of evidence. Similarly, problems with the discovery process involving significant amounts of evidence can arise.

Novel legal issues may make a case complex, too. Even if there happens to be a single plaintiff and a single defendant appearing before a single court, sorting out novel issues can become time-consuming. This is especially the case because the need to strictly preserve all of the details due to the potential for an appeal is very high when new problems appear before a trial court.

If a case is judged to be complex, the courts involved with it will order appropriate remedies. This may include the use of modern technologies to connect judges, witnesses, court officers, plaintiffs and defendants to better manage the case and to share documents and evidence.