In addition to the specific practice areas detailed on this site, the firm handles general litigation in many other areas, including real estate (quiet title and boundary line disputes), breach of contracts, commercial collections and any other dispute. A general trial practice involves preparing and presenting a case at trial. The general litigation attorneys of Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC, can work with you to determine the best course of action to resolve your legal issues.
In Missouri courts, a lawsuit is most often initiated by filing a petition. The petition states the factual and legal basis for the issues that are to be tried by the court. The petition may be amended from time to time, with permission of the court, if new facts are discovered. The party being sued responds to the petition by filing an answer, which must be filed within 30 days of being served, in accordance with Rule 55.25(a) of the Missouri Rules of Civil Procedure. The answer may include a counterclaim against the party who has filed the lawsuit. Other pleadings may include motions and cross claims against a third party.
Once the lawsuit is started, the parties engage in discovery. Unlike the old Perry Mason shows, it is a poor civil attorney who is surprised by a witness or by unknown facts at trial. During discovery, each party must disclose pertinent facts through interrogatories (written questions answered under oath), production of documents and depositions (oral questions where the question and answer are transcribed by a court reporter while under oath).The court can oversee the discovery process through motions to compel answers and by issuing sanctions for a party who refuses to cooperate and follow the rules of civil procedure.
After discovery is complete, either party may try to short circuit the trial process by filing a motion for summary judgment. Under Rule 74.04 of the Missouri Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment will be granted if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In essence, the judge must determine that there are no disputed facts and no issues for a jury to decide.
There are other ways in which a trial may be avoided. Mediation and/or arbitration may be used by the parties to resolve their differences before the trial begins. The court can order the parties to mediate their case, pursuant to Rule 17.03 of the Missouri Rules of Civil Procedure.
At trial, the parties present evidence through witness testimony and written documents. The judge and/or jury will then make a decision after hearing the facts and applying Missouri law. Any party may appeal the decision to the appropriate Missouri Court of Appeal, and ultimately, to the Missouri Supreme Court.
If you need legal assistance, or for further information about a general litigation need, please contact us or call Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC, at (573) 686-2459. Our commitment is to earn your confidence by answering all questions and providing quality representation.