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Appellant: Someone who is unsatisfied with the result of his or her lawsuit and asks an appeals court to review the decision. Note: If the defendant at the trial court level loses the case (plaintiff v. defendant), then the defendant can bring the case to the appeals court and is labeled the appellant and is in the first position on the lawsuit (eg, appellant (defendant originally) v. appellee (plaintiff originally).

Appellee: The party who the action is being taken against in an appeal. This party can be either the plaintiff or the defendant and is the one who usually loses at the trial court level.

Assumption of risk: The risk a party takes while engaged in what might be considered a dangerous activity, for example, working with explosives in building a tunnel through a mountain, and standing to close to the explosive when it detonates.

Cause of action: A party suing another party will list the reasons for bringing the lawsuit in the form of specific claims and facts and/or laws supporting the claims filed. Listings of “negligence,” “defamation,” and “invasion of privacy” are examples of “cause of action” claims.

Comparative negligence: The amount an award for damages in a negligence case is reduced based on the degree of negligence imputed to the plaintiff. Example: If the plaintiff is found to be comparatively negligent to the order of 20% negligent, then the plaintiff will only be entitled to 80% of the court award granted.

Compensatory damages: The amount of money awarded by a court to replace what was lost because of the unlawful conduct of another. The two types are special and general damages.

Conjecture: Speculation or a conclusion possibly based on incomplete information.

Constructive notice: Even if one didn’t know, he or she should have known based on the standard of a reasonable person.

Contributory damages: Some jurisdictions apply this rule of damages to be awarded rather than the comparative damages rule. Under this damage arrangement in some jurisdictions, if the plaintiff is found to have contributed to his or her own negligence to any degree, he or she may be denied compensation entirely.

Defamatory statement: A false statement that injuries someone’s reputation or business interests.

Defendant: An individual or company/institution/other entity that is accused or sued in a court of law.

Dismissal of a court case: A judge may dismiss a case from going forward based on a number of reasons. In dismissing the case, it may be done with or without prejudice:

  • Dismissal with prejudice: It has been decided by the judge that the case brought before the court may lack specific features, and cannot be brought back to court in the manner the case was presented.

  • Dismissal without prejudice: The dismissal of the case by the court does not prevent ...

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