Filing a Civil Complaint

filing a civil complaint

The filing of a civil complaint starts the civil process. The complaint sets forth the type and amount of damages being claimed by the plaintiff (the person who is filing the lawsuit) against the defendant (the person being sued).

There are many different types of civil complaints, that address a variety of issues. These issues can generally be broken down into four categories: breach of contract, tort, equitable claim and landlord/tenant issues.

civil injunction

In civil disputes where damage is done to a party, that party can file a civil lawsuit for money damages. Breach of Contract is one of the most common reasons individuals or businesses file a civil case. A breach of contract case is typically filed because a person or entity failed to perform some term of a contract without some legitimate excuse. The contract could be written or oral.  Cases involving not paying a debt, failure to complete a job or failure to deliver goods are examples of breach of contract claims.

A “tort” is a wrongful act (other than a breach of contract) that results in injury to someone’s reputation, person, property or the like. In a tort action, the party suing is seeking monetary compensation for the damages caused by the other party.  Examples of civil tort claims include claims of defamation, fraud, personal injury, battery, medical malpractice, or other negligence.

In some instances, depending on the case, a party may ask for something other than money damages. For example, a person may ask the court to issue an injunction against another party which bars a person from doing a specific act. These civil cases are based on an equitable claim. A civil suit can be filed to get a court order to stop some action or to require the person being sued to take some particular action. Sometimes an equitable civil case also includes a claim for money damages. Cases seeking a temporary restraining order or injunction to stop something (selling property, soliciting customers or stopping the destruction of property are examples of equitable civil suits. The court may issue a restraining order restricting a defendant’s actions until the case is resolved. For example, a person signs a contract to buy a house from the homeowner and the owner turns around and sells the house for a second time to another person. The first buyer may ask the court to restrain the seller from completing the sale to the second buyer until the case between the first buyer and the seller is resolved.

Landlord/tenant issues are also handled by the civil court.  These cases may involve matters where a landlord has refused to return a security deposit to a tenant, failed to provide habitable premises or when the landlord has filed an unlawful detainer action to evict a tenant for failure to pay rent or other reason.

There are different levels related to the amount of claimed damages when filing a lawsuit. You should give thoughtful consideration when selecting whether you want to file your claim under the Small Claims rules or as a limited or unlimited civil complaint.

Type of ClaimAmount of Civil Damages
Small ClaimsUp to $7,500
Limited Civil tier 1Up to $10,000
Limited Civil tier 2Over $10,000 to $25,000
Unlimited CivilOver $25,000

California Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

In every state, there are time deadlines for the filing of lawsuits and other civil actions. These deadlines are called “statutes of limitations.” California’s civil statute of limitations laws are very similar to those of other states and, depending on the type of case or procedure, range from one year to 10 years. An attorney should always be consulted to verify the statute of limitations that may apply in a particular set of circumstances.

Our Civil Complaint Services

Due to the varying complexities of civil proceedings, many fees must be quoted on an individual basis based on the services required. All of our services are quoted on a FLAT FEE basis and DO NOT include any court filing fees or third party costs. Some of the more standard services are:

Civil Complaints and AnswersPrice
Small Claims Package
Includes preparation of claim, submission of documents to court, scheduling of hearing and arranging service of process
$200 plus $25 each defendant over 1
Civil Complaint
Limited with 1 cause of action
Each additional cause of action
$250
+$50
Response to unverified Civil Complaint with affirmative defenses$250
Response to verified Civil Complaint with affirmative defenses$350
Landlord Eviction/Unlawful Detainer Complaint for possession through Judgment$425
Tenant Answer to Unlawful Detainer Complaint with affirmative defenses$200

Other Civil and Misc. MattersPrice
Propounding Discovery
Interrogatories, Request for Admissions, Production of Documents
$250 up
Responding to Discovery
Interrogatories, Request for Admissions, Production of Documents
$250 up
Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment$375
Civil Restraining Order$400
Renew Judgment$350
California Sister State Judgment$300
Other Collection ProceedingsCall for quote
Expungement$250
Other ServicesCall for quote

Get help with your California civil lawsuit today!

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