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Civil litigation arises when a dispute is brought to court between two or more individuals or businesses. The purpose of a civil litigation lawsuit is to recover or receive money in the form of damages or to recover some kind of right.

A civil litigation lawsuit starts when a Plaintiff files a pleading referred to as a "Complaint" against the Defendant. The Defendant will usually then file a responsive pleading known as an "Answer". The lawsuit then enters the "Discovery" phase: a process where each side discovers and determines all the facts about a case. The Discovery phase usually includes the exchange of documents, one or both parties admitting to facts being disputed, written questions answered by the parties, and witnesses who answer questions under oath before a court reporter.

Upon the completion of the Discovery phase, a trial date is generally. However, most lawsuits can be settled by both the Plaintiff and Defendant at any time, as long as they come to an agreement on terms that both parties find acceptable. In many cases, this is a preferred alternative to trial.