Glossary of Litigation Terms

Common Law

Common Law is the body of law established by judicial decisions as opposed to law created by legislation. It originated in England and the American Colonies before the Declaration of Independence.


A Complaint is the initial pleading filed by a plaintiff. It sets forth the claims of the plaintiff and the remedy sought. The complaint, together with the Summons, is served on the defendant.


Contribution refers to the right to recover from another who is jointly liable.


A Cross-Complaint is a claim made by a defendant against a plaintiff or another party alleged to be liable whether or not the person is already a party to the lawsuit.


Cross-Examination is the examination of any witness who testified against someone on direct examination. The opportunity to cross-examine a witness takes place as soon as the witness completes his or her direct testimony. The primary purposes of cross-examination is to get the witness to say something favorable to your side, or to impeach or cast doubt on the witness.


Damages is money awarded by a court to compensate an injured party. There are several definitions or types of damages that sometimes overlap.

Damages – Compensatory

Compensatory Damages are also called actual damages. They are intended to restore the party to the position he or she was in prior to the injury.

Damages – General

General Damages are damages intended to cover those types of injuries for which it is extremely difficult to calculate an exact dollar amount. General damages commonly include pain and suffering, loss of a loved one, loss of reputation and a shortened life expectancy.

Damages – Nominal

Nominal Damages are commonly only one dollar. Nominal damages are awarded when the law requires an award, but there are no significant damages.



Free Homeowner Association Board Training Seminars

Michael T. Chulak