The people who are involved

in a civil lawsuit are the parties to that lawsuit.

The party (or person or company) who brings the lawsuit is called the plaintiff. The party (or person or company) who is sued in the lawsuit is called the defendant. So a plaintiff brings a lawsuit against a defendant by suing that person or company. There may be several plaintiffs or several defendants, or both. The number of parties in a lawsuit depends on the number of parties who were harmed and the number of parties who harmed them. So a case could look like any one of these examples:

  • one person against another person which would look like this: John Doe v. Jane Smith (this would be John Doe as a plaintiff suing Jane Smith as a defendant);
  • One person against a company: John Doe v. Cheverolet (this would be John Doe as a plaintiff suing the company, Cheverolet, as a defendant);
  • One person against a government: John Doe v. the City of Raleigh (this would be John Doe as a plaintiff suing the city of Raleigh as a defendant); or
  • Any combination of several people suing several defendants: John Doe and Jane Smith v. Cheverolet, the city of Raleigh, and Fred Sanford (this would be John Doe and Jane Smith both serving as plaintiffs suing a company, Cheverolet, the city or Raleigh, and a person, Fred Sanford, all as defendants).