Law 101

Suing Someone

Sometimes disputes cannot be settled amicably, and you must take the other person to court.

Filing a lawsuit with the court is the first step any plaintiff in a civil case must take to ask the court to decide a dispute. These first papers filed with the court identify who is being sued, the basis for the lawsuit, and the court in which the lawsuit is filed. Taking this step causes the court to create a file for the case, and issue a case number.

Community Resources

Bookshelves labeled Self Help For Help
SH@LL (Self Help @ the Law Library)
Handshake Alternative to Court
Sacramento Mediation Center


The Judicial Council creates many of the forms needed for a civil lawsuit in California state courts. Sacramento County Superior Court also creates forms for use in this county specifically. For other situations, you may need to create your own forms. Our Legal Research Guides and Step-by-Steps have instructions and samples for many commonly-used forms.

Form Resources

Legal forms Judicial Council Forms These forms can be filled out online, and printed for filing.
Sacramento Superior Court Sacramento County Local Forms These forms are for use only in Sacramento County.
Pleading Paper Common forms for lawsuits Sacramento County Public Law Library has prepared forms for some common situations.
Federal Courthouse fountain United States District Courts The national forms for use in Federal courts.

Research Guides

The Law Librarians have created these research guides as an aid for those starting a legal research project. These guides recommend print and electronic resources that will help you find answers to your law-related questions. Many guides provide step-by-step information, as well as sample forms, for common legal procedures.

Common Questions

The Law Librarians write articles on a variety of common legal issues.


The Law Librarians created these pamphlets in response to frequently asked questions on subjects not appropriate for more substantive guides.


The Sacramento County Public Law Library has produced a number of videos on Civil Lawsuit topics.

Videos from the Sacramento County Public Law Library

Case Management video Completing Your Case Management Statement Provides background and explanation of the Case Management Program forms.
Court system video Court System: Who Are the Players? What Do They Do? Sacramento County Superior Court staff discuss the roles of various court personnel.
Football video If You Understand Football... Explains the different stages of a civil lawsuit.
How to Serve Court Papers by Mail Explains how to serve documents by mail and complete the Proof of Service form.
Personal service video Personal Service of Court Papers Explains the proper personal service of court papers, and the Proof of Service form.
See you in Court Video See You in Court! How to Start a Civil Lawsuit in Sacramento Describes the steps of writing, filing and serving a civil case.

Videos from Other Libraries and Courts