Chapter Six: What Happens After You File Your Lawsuit

Chapter Six discusses the first things that will happen after you start your suit. It helps you respond to a “motion to dismiss” your suit or a “motion for summary judgment” against you. It also tells you what to do if prison officials win these motions. It explains how to use “pre-trial discovery” to get information and materials from prison officials.

The sad truth of the matter is that prisoners file thousands of Section 1983 cases every year, and the vast majority of these are dismissed at one of the three stages described in sections B, C, & F of this chapter. This may happen to you even if you have a valid claim and a […]

At some point, the prison officials will probably submit a Motion for Summary Judgment. Be sure to read about the rules and procedure for summary judgment in Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants can ask for summary judgment along with their motion to dismiss your complaint or at some later time. […]

If you have made it past the defendant’s motions for dismissal, there is a better chance that the court will appoint an attorney to assist you. If so, you can use this section of the Handbook to understand what your lawyer is doing, to help him or her do it better and to figure out […]

One argument that prison officials often raise, either in their motion to dismiss or later on, is that you have no legal basis for continuing your suit because your case has become “moot.” This is only a problem if you are asking for injunctive or declaratory relief.  If you are asking for money damages, your […]

If you get through the first hurdles, the next legal paper you receive from the prison officials may be a Motion to Dismiss your suit. Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure explains some of the grounds for a motion to dismiss. Defendants may give a number of reasons. One reason is sure […]

Once you have filed your complaint, the court is required to “screen” it. This means the court looks at your complaint and decides, without giving you the chance to argue or explain anything, whether or not you have any chance of winning your case. The PLRA requires the court to dismiss your complaint right then […]

Filing your suit is only the beginning. You must be prepared to do a lot of work after you file the complaint to achieve your goal. Throughout the suit, it will be your responsibility to keep your case moving forward, or nothing will happen. This chapter will explain what may happen after you file the […]