How Do I sue for Breach of Contract?

Breach of Contract Lawsuit in Orlando

At The Spence Law Firm, we know that when two parties sign a contract, they generally think they will avoid a breach of contract lawsuit.  Both sides expect that they will live up to the duties and obligations of the contract.  In the business world, as we know, things do not always work out as planned.  If the other side has materially breached the terms of a contract, or if you have failed to abide by the terms of a contract, it is likely you will find yourself in a breach of contract lawsuit.  Listed below is a general outline of how a such a lawsuit will progress.

The person or business that files the initial complaint is known as the “plaintiff” while the person or business that receives the complaint and files an answer to it is known as the “defendant.”

The person or business that files the initial complaint is known as the “plaintiff” while the person or business that receives the complaint and files an answer to it is known as the “defendant.”

Filing a Complaint

This is the initial step in a lawsuit.  A “complaint” is the legal document that we file with the court to get a breach of contract lawsuit started.  The complaint will essentially tell the story of the parties’ relationship.  How it started, by signing the contract, how the defendant breached the contract by failing to perform the contract, and the amount of damages that the plaintiff incurred as a result of the breach.

The Motion to Dismiss the Complaint

Before filing an Answer as discussed below, the Defendants may instead file a motion to dismiss the Complaint.  The basis of the motion can be anything between a procedural defect in service of process to a legal argument that rebuts the plaintiff’s claims.  If a motion to dismiss is filed, it must be set for hearing with the court and a decision made before the Defendants have a duty to file an Answer.

The Answer to the Complaint

Once the complaint is filed, it is then formally served on the defendant by a deputy sheriff or process server.  The defendant then has twenty days to file either a motion to dismiss the complaint or an answer to the complaint.  The answer has to respond to each individual paragraph of the complaint and either admit that the paragraph is true, or deny that the paragraph is true.  The answer can also raise affirmative defenses to the complaint.  Affirmative defenses admit the allegations of the complaint, but raise a defense that defeats the claim.

The Counter-Claim

When the defendant files their answer, they can also assert their own claims against the plaintiff.  So if the defendant thinks that the plaintiff is actually the at-fault party, they can file their own contract lawsuit against the plaintiff, by filing a counter-claim.  When a counter-claim is served, the plaintiff has twenty days to file an answer to it.

Discovery in the Lawsuit

Once the above documents are filed with the court, the breach of contract lawsuit moves to the next phase, which is called “discovery.”  The discovery phase allows both sides to essentially “discover” the facts and evidence that the other side is going to use in the lawsuit.  There are various discovery tools, among them are: interrogatories, or written questions you ask the other side; requests for production of documents, in which you request that the other side give you certain categories or types of documents, and requests for admission, in which you ask the other side to admit the truth of certain statements or to the contents of certain documents.  There are also depositions, which is a more formal, in-person question and answer session.


Once discovery is complete, the parties must attend mediation, which is a private, informal settlement conference that does not include the judge.   Mediation is required before your case can be set for trial.  The mediation process is entirely confidential and it is also voluntary.  The parties are not required to settle the case, they are only required to show up and try to settle the case.  If the case does not settle, it is known as an “impasse” and the case may then proceed to trial.


If the case does not settle, then the parties may file a notice for trial with the court, which will then issue a trial order.   The trial can be either a jury trial or a bench trial, depending on what the parties requested in the pleadings.  The trial order typically sets deadlines for completion of discovery and requires certain pre-trial documents be filed with the court, and it will also set a trial period during which your case will be scheduled at the pre-trial conference.


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