Chapter Four: Structuring Your Lawsuit

Now that you know your rights under the Constitution, the next step is figuring out how to put together your lawsuit. You will need to decide what you want the court to do, who to include as plaintiffs, and who to sue.

One person, or a small group of people, can sue on behalf of all other people who are in the same situation. This is called a “class action.” The requirements for a class action are found in Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 23 is part of Title 28 of the […]

Before a judge rules on your case, you may consider “settlement” which means both parties involved give in to some of each others’ demands and your suit ends without a trial. In a settlement, you can get the same type of relief, like money or a policy change, as you could get if your case […]

In your complaint you have to name at least one defendant. But if you want, you can name more than one. You should include all of the people or entities that were responsible for the harm that you suffered. However, you do not want to go too far and name uninvolved people in the hopes […]

In a Section 1983 or Bivens lawsuit, the court can order prison officials to give you money to make up for the harm you suffered when your rights were violated. You can get money damages instead of, or in addition to, an injunction. You may want an injunction against some of the people you sue […]

An injunction is an order issued by a court that tells the defendant to do or not do some act or acts. The court can order the defendants to stop doing harmful and unconstitutional things to you. It can require the defendants to act in a way that will prevent them from violating your rights […]

If you bring a lawsuit under Section 1983, you can ask for three things: money damages, a declaratory judgment, or an injunction. You don’t have to ask for just one – you can ask for two or all three. In the legal world, all three of these options are called “relief.” Money damages is when […]