June 2, 2015 • Legal Terminology
Suppose you have filed a medical malpractice case, an accident case, or even a wrongful death case, and you have chosen voluntarily to settle this case before it goes to verdict. If you agree on an amount of money to settle the case for, the defense will ask for a stipulation of discontinuance. What is that?
What is a Stipulation of Discontinuance and Why is it Required?
It is simply a piece of paper that mainly says that I (name of the plaintiff) agree to discontinue this lawsuit. Why is stipulation of discontinuance required? It is required to finalize a particular lawsuit. Suppose you have filed a personal injury case, and after negotiations, you agree to a settlement amount, you will have to sign stipulation of discontinuance and send it over to the defense attorney who will sign it as well.
Then the defense attorney will take this document and file it with the court. This way the court will have actual proof that the plaintiff has discontinued the case, and the case is over. All the necessary people involved in the case have signed off on it, telling the court that the case is now officially over and the court can now close the case and move on with other business, i.e. other cases.
The Court needs Proof of the Case being Closed
If the court does not have the stipulation of discontinuance, or if only one or two people involved in the lawsuit actually participated in signing it, the court would still keep the case open. The court will keep the case open, schedule conferences, and will want to know what is happening with the case. However, when everyone participates and signs off on this discontinuance document that says the case is over, then only the court will close that case file, and nobody can reopen that case after that.
Make Sure You are Satisfied with the Settlement Offer before Signing Anything
Therefore, if you have filed a personal injury case and negotiations are going on, you should only sign the stipulation of discontinuance, when you are fully satisfied with the settlement offer. Once you have signed this document and it is filed with the court, you cannot reopen this case for whatever reason. In fact, your signature on this document indicates that you have accepted a settlement offer voluntarily and therefore you do not wish to take the case further through trial. You have officially declared your case to be over, and that you are not going to pursue it any further.
Additionally, the court will also have a document showing the case was closed. The court cannot discontinue a case without proper documentation, without all parties of the case agreeing that the case is over. The stipulation of discontinuance is signed by the plaintiff stating the case is now over, and the defense also signs it before filing it with the court.