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If the plaintiff wins a civil case, the defendant must pay a sum of money. These damages can be punitive (punishment/prevent future poor conduct) or compensatory (for injury/loss).

The defendant had to pay $100,000 in punitive damages according to the judge.

Synonyms: compensation, recompense, restitution, redress, reparation(s); indemnification, indemnity

De Facto

de fac·to

/ˈdi ˈfaktō,dā/


A Latin term meaning ‘actually’ or ‘in fact’. This is something which is a fact but not a matter of law.

De Facto, the defendant was at her mother’s house when the crime was committed.

Synonyms: in practice, in effect, in fact, in reality, really, actually

De Jure

de ju·re

/di ˈjo͝orē,dā ˈjo͝orā/


A Latin term; means ‘in law’. This is something which is a matter of law.

It was on the de jure recognition of Italy’s conquest of Abyssinia that Cranborne urged Eden to make his stand.

Synonyms: by right, rightfully, legally, according to the law; rightful, legal

De Novo

De No·vo

/dā ˈnōvō,di/


A Latin term which means ‘anew’. For example, a new trial is called a ‘trial de novo’.

In a pure meritocracy, everyone must begin de novo.

Synonyms:afresh, anew





The person/business whom the lawsuit is filed against.

The defendant had to pay $100,000 in punitive damages according to the judge.

Synonyms: accused, appellant, litigant, respondent; suspect





This is an oral statement one makes before an officer of law who is authorized to administer oaths. A deposition is made to obtain evidence disclosure pre-trial or to examine possible witnesses.

At the deposition, the lawyer asked questions for several hours to get the information he needed.

Synonyms: statement, affidavit, attestation, affirmation, assertion; allegation, declaration; testimony, evidence;

Dismissal With Prejudice

dis·miss·al with prej·u·dice



This is a court action which means an identical lawsuit cannot be filed in the future.

The judge decided to grant a dismissal with prejudice, so that the suit could not be filed again in the future.

Dismissal Without Prejudice

dis·miss·al with·out prej·u·dice



A court action which allows the same lawsuit to be filed at a future date.

The suit may come up again because the judge issued a dismissal without prejudice.

* These terms are general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Different states may define terms differently. These terms are not designed to be legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Always seek advice from an attorney licensed in your state who is familiar with how your jurisdiction defines key legal terms that are important in your particular matter.

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