Generally speaking, there are two phases to most cases: 1) the settlement phase, and 2) the litigation phase.
The litigation phase of a case can be divided into three distinct stages: 1) the complaint and answer stage, 2) the discovery stage, and 3) the trial stage.
This is the first of a series of articles that pertain to the stages of litigation in Nevada district courts cases.
This article will discuss in broad terms the compaint and answer stage and future articles will deal with the discovery and trial stage.
Complaint and Answer Stage
Litigation starts when a complaint is filed. A complaint contains factual allegations against the other side and sets forth legal claims and a "prayer" for relief. Claims are made up of elements and a party must prove each and every element of a claim to prevail on that claim.
Different types of damages are available upon the proof of different claims. Exact damage amounts are not alleged in district court complaints; rather, general allegations usually allege an approximate damage amount.
Similarly, facts set forth in complaints do not need to be exhaustive. Nevada is a notice pleading jurisdiction, which means, basically, that complaints only need to contain enough information to give the other side notice of a party's claims.
Most defendants have 20 days to answer a complaint. An answer sets forth defenses (such as failure to adhere to the statute of limitations or failure to set forth the necessary elements of a claim) and may set forth counterclaims or claims against third parties.
In many parts of Nevada, complaints that reflect that the value of a case is under $40,000.00 must proceed through arbitration before a party is entitled to a bench or jury trial.