In Arkansas, a civil action commences with the filing of a complaint with the clerk of the court. Party who commences the action is called the plaintiff, and the opposite party is called the defendant. According to Rule 4, once a complaint is filed, the court clerk will issue a summons. The Sheriff of the county will serve the summons.
A civil action can be classified into various stages that include: pleading stage, discovery stage, trial stage, and judgment stage. Different types of pleadings in Arkansas courts are: Complaint, Answer to Complaint, Counter claim, Reply to counterclaim, Cross claim, Answer to cross claim, Third party complaint and Third party answer. A complaint should be filed by the real party in interest. If the real party in interest is an infant or incompetent person, the person’s guardian should file the complaint. If an infant or incompetent person does not have a guardian, s/he may file the action through a next friend or a guardian ad litem.
Parties my obtain discovery by:
- oral examination or written questions;
- written interrogatories;
- requests for admission;
- request for production of documents or other information;
- request for permission to enter into land or other property for inspection or other purpose; and/or
- physical and mental examinations.
Arkansas provides for both trial by jury and trial by court. At the trial stage, a party may demand for trial by jury. Issues involved in a case not tried by jury will be tried by the court. Generally, judgment is passed after trial. The judgment may include a decree or an order upon which an appeal is permissible. Litigation cost is adjudged to the prevailing party.