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What is a Motion to Dismiss?

  • August 19, 2016

    One of the most important court room legal maneuvers available to attorneys is the motion to dismiss. It has the possibility of literally ending a trial completely.

    A motion to dismiss occurs when a lawyer from one side of a court case asks the judge to expel the case from the court and judge’s consideration on legal grounds. There are many reasons why a motion to dismiss may be made. Some of these reasons may be founded on legal principal, while others may be more desperate maneuvers from a legal team sensing an impending loss.

    This kind of maneuver is allowed because it can have some benefit. Certain cases are simply inappropriate for consideration by the legal system. Allowing for motions to dismiss makes the legal system more efficient by allowing judges to weed out these illegitimate cases before they eat up any more of the public’s time and resources.

    The motion to dismiss may be accepted by the judge or denied. If it is accepted, the judge usually does so with or without prejudice. If it is done without prejudice, this usually means that the claimant will be able to sue again over the same mater at a later point in time.

    Often, the motion to dismiss is accepted due to the fact that the claimant sued over something that did not do any actual harm and was not illegal regardless. A common example occurs when someone sues over cross words being exchanged such as when someone is “told off.” Being told off does not produce any damages that require a court remedy. It is also protected under the freedom of speech.

    There, however, may be less obvious reasons for a motion to dismiss to be made and accepted. This often occurs due to the statue of limitations. The statute of limitations is a law that determines how long a claimant can wait before suing over a certain event. For example, if a person lost money due to a shady business deal but waited five years from the loss to sue, the case may be thrown out due to the statue of limitations being exceeded.

    A motion to dismiss may also be made if the plaintiff drags his or her feet so to speak with the case. Court cases are costly endeavors, and the time of judges, court clerks and others is valuable. If too many unwarranted delays are made by the plaintiff’s side, the judge may choose to accept a motion to dismiss to save the defendant and court workers the undue hardship of continuing a case with an uncooperative plaintiff.

    Motions to dismiss may be either made orally during court or in a written form as a brief that outlines the legal argument an attorney has made to justify the dismissal of the case. However, in certain cases, the just may just choose to dismiss a case without a motion being made by either side. This may happen when one side in the case does not follow court procedure or breaks the law.

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