Motion to Dismiss: A Powerful Tool to Win Before Trial

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Motion to Dismiss: A Powerful Tool to Win Before Trial

Pretrial motions can resolve your case quickly and decisively, terminating the litigation and ending the dispute before it ever goes to trial.  One of the most powerful pretrial motions is the motion to dismiss.

A motion to dismiss is typically filed in the early stages of litigation, prior to discovery.  It will lay out the particular reasons why your attorney believes the complaint is legally invalid, and is typically based on one or more of these legal deficiencies:

Lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  This means that the court where the suit has been filed does not have the power to rule on the dispute.  This usually occurs when state law requires that a special court determine specific matters.  One example would be the requirement for a probate court to hear matters relating to a deceased person’s estate rather than a general civil court.

Lack of personal jurisdiction.  This is when the court does not have jurisdiction over a defendant in a lawsuit.  A state court may not have the power to enter judgment against a defendant who does not live in the state where a suit is filed.  For example, if you were involved in an accident in Nevada, but live in Arizona and you are being sued by the other driver who lives in Texas, it can be successfully argued that a Texas court does not have jurisdiction over you.

Improper venue.  State law determines the places within a state where you can be sued.  If you are not sued in one of those places, then the venue is improper.  Even if the court has personal jurisdiction over you, the venue may still be legally improper. 

Insufficiency of process.  Your case may be dismissed if you were not served properly with the complaint and summons, or if there is a technical defect in the summons.  There may be other reasons why the service was improper, so it is important to inform your attorney of all the details of the service.

Failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.  After reviewing the complaint, your attorney may determine that the facts set forth in the complaint do not constitute a legal claim for relief.  For example, you might be sued, individually, for breach of contract, yet the contract shows that your company, not you, is the party to the contract.  Or the statute of limitations may have expired, which would require dismissal if that defect is apparent on the face of the complaint.

A judge can dismiss a case with or without prejudice.  If the lawsuit is dismissed with prejudice, the plaintiff cannot file the same claim against the defendant again. Williams Commercial Law Group, L.L.P., is a law firm with decades of experience in commercial litigation, including business divorce, aviation, and high stakes litigation. Contact us at (602) 256-9400 and schedule a time to meet with us today.


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