Define: Abatement Of An Action

Abatement Of An Action
Abatement Of An Action
Video Guide For Abatement Of An Action
Quick Summary of Abatement Of An Action

An entire overthrow or destruction of a suit so that it is quashed and ended.

In UK law, “abatement of an action” refers to the termination or suspension of a legal action before it reaches a final judgement. Abatement can occur for various reasons, including the death of a party, the satisfaction of the claim, or procedural defects. When an action abates, it means that the lawsuit cannot proceed further in its current form. Depending on the circumstances, the court may dismiss the action entirely, allow it to be revived under certain conditions, or order necessary adjustments to address procedural deficiencies. Abatement of an action is an important legal principle that helps maintain the integrity and efficiency of the judicial process by addressing situations where continuation of the action is impractical or unjust.

Full Definition Of Abatement Of An Action

The purpose of abatement is to save the time and expense of a trial when the plaintiff’s suit cannot be maintained in the form originally presented. After an action abates, the plaintiff is ordinarily given an opportunity to correct errors in his or her pleading. If the plaintiff is still unable to allege the facts necessary to state a legal cause of action, then the action is terminated.

Not every possible reason for dissatisfaction with another person can be heard by a court. When the old common law form of action governed the procedure followed by courts (as opposed to state and federal rules of procedure, which now do), only legal wrongs that fit exactly into one of the allowed categories could be pleaded in court. If the defendant believed that the plaintiff’s complaint did not fit one of these forms, the defendant could respond with a plea in abatement. A plea in abatement was called a dilatory plea because it delayed the time when the court would reach the merits of the plaintiff’s claim, if ever.

The rigid formality of common law pleading became less satisfactory as legal disputes became more complicated. It has been replaced in each state by a procedure that allows the plaintiff to plead facts showing his or her right to legal relief. Modern systems of pleading retain a right for the defendant to seek abatement of the action when the plaintiff is not entitled to be in court. They allow a defendant to object to the court’s jurisdiction, the venue of the trial, the sufficiency of process or of the service of process, the legal sufficiency of the plaintiff’s claim, or the failure to include someone who must be a party. A plea in abatement is made either in the defendant’s answer or by motion and order—that is, an application to the court for relief and an order that can grant it. Abatement is usually granted in the form of a dismissal of cause of action, and now the term dismissal is used more often than the term abatement for this procedure.

Today, the word abatement is most often used for the termination of a lawsuit because of the death of a party. Under the common law, a lawsuit abated automatically whenever a party died. This rule was considered part of the substance of the law involved and was not merely a question of procedure. Whether the cause of action abated depended on whether or not the lawsuit was considered personal to the parties. For example, contract and property cases were thought to involve issues separate from the parties themselves. They were not personal and did not necessarily abate on the death of a party. Personal injury cases were considered personal, however, and did abate at death. These included claims not only for physical assault or negligent injuries inflicted on the body but also for other injuries to the person—such as libel, slander, and malicious prosecution.

Today, there are statutes that permit the revival of an action that was pending when a party died. An executor or administrator is substituted for the deceased party, and the lawsuit continues. A lawsuit may not be revived unless the underlying cause of action, the ground for the suit, continues to have a legal existence after the party’s death. Revival statutes vary from state to state, but today most lawsuits do not abate.

This general rule does not apply to matrimonial actions. A lawsuit for divorce or separation is considered entirely personal and therefore cannot be maintained after the death of a party. Different states do make exceptions to this rule in order to settle certain questions of property ownership. An action for the annulment of a marriage after the death of an innocent spouse may be revived by the deceased spouse’s personal representative if it is clear that the marriage was induced by fraud and the perpetrator of the fraud would inherit property to which he or she would otherwise not be entitled.

Abatement Of An Action FAQ'S

Abatement of an action refers to the temporary suspension or termination of a legal proceeding, typically due to certain circumstances that render the continuation of the action impractical or inappropriate.

Common reasons for abatement of an action may include:

  • Death of a party involved in the lawsuit.
  • Bankruptcy of a party or insolvency of an estate.
  • Lack of capacity or legal disability of a party to continue the action.
  • Settlement or compromise between the parties.

Abatement of an action does not necessarily mean the end of the lawsuit. In some cases, the action may be revived or resumed under certain conditions, such as substitution of parties or resolution of the issues that led to the abatement.

Abatement of an action and dismissal are both legal mechanisms that result in the termination of a lawsuit, but they differ in certain aspects:

  • Abatement is typically temporary and may be subject to revival, whereas dismissal is usually final and terminates the lawsuit without the possibility of revival.
  • Abatement often occurs due to procedural issues or external circumstances, while dismissal may be based on substantive grounds such as failure to state a claim or lack of jurisdiction.

Pending motions or orders in an abated action may be held in abeyance or suspended until the action is revived or formally dismissed. Parties may need to address any pending issues or motions if the action is later resumed.

In some cases, certain events such as the death of a party may result in automatic abatement of the action without the need for a formal motion or order from the court. However, parties or their legal representatives may still need to take steps to address the abatement and its implications.

Parties can address an abatement of an action by:

  • Filing a motion with the court to abate the action based on the relevant circumstances.
  • Seeking substitution of parties if the abatement is due to the death or incapacity of a party.
  • Taking steps to resolve any issues that led to the abatement, such as settling the case or addressing procedural deficiencies.

In many cases, an action that has been abated can be revived or resumed under certain conditions, such as:

  • Substitution of parties to replace deceased or incapacitated individuals.
  • Resolution of issues that led to the abatement, such as settlement or satisfaction of legal requirements.

Abatement of an action may have implications for statutes of limitations, depending on the circumstances and applicable laws. Parties should consult with legal professionals to understand how abatement may affect their rights and obligations regarding time limitations for filing or pursuing claims.

If you have questions or concerns about abatement of an action or its implications for your legal proceedings, it is advisable to consult with a qualified attorney or legal advisor who can provide guidance and assistance based on your specific circumstances and applicable laws.

Related Phrases

This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 10th April 2024.

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