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What is a Civil Case?

Civil cases involve disputes between individuals, groups, or organizations in which parties typically want to:

  • Be paid money damages
  • Compel someone to act
  • Stop someone from doing something
  • Cause a certain action to be taken

A civil case starts when a complaint is filed with the court. Some common case types are:


Civil Action Type Description
Tort
  • Plaintiff claims that the defendant caused injury, damage or death through negligence
  • Tort cases can involve:
  • Auto
  • Personal Injury
  • Property Damage
  • Wrongful Death
  • Other miscellaneous types
Breach of Contract Plaintiff claims defendant failed to meet his obligation after entering into a contract with the plaintiff Failure may be:
  • To provide goods and/or services,
  • To pay for goods delivered or services already rendered
  • Contract may be written or verbal.
Employment Plaintiff and defendant have an employee-employer relationship and plaintiff claims that defendant failed to meet his obligation under:
  • An individual employment contract
  • The application of tort and contract doctrines
  • Statutory regulation on issues such as:
    • wages and hours
    • protection from discrimination
    • right to organize and negotiate collective bargaining agreements
    • health and safety
Real Property
  • Plaintiff and defendant have a dispute involving ownership or tenancy in real property (real estate), and the associated rights and obligations thereon.
Eviction (Unlawful Detainer)
  • A landlord/owner sues a tenant to obtain a court order giving the landlord/owner the right to regain possession of the property from the tenant.
  • Plaintiff must serve a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit on the tenant before the complaint is filed.
  • Plaintiff may file an Eviction (Unlawful Detainer) complaint if the tenant refuses to comply with the notice, and fails to either pay the rent or quit the premises.
Copyright 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles