A lawsuit is a legal action by a person or entity against another person or entity and is judged in a civil court of law, either at the local, state, or federal level.
Civil and Criminal Lawsuits
A lawsuit is defined as a civil action brought to a court of law to resolve an issue, either involving a dispute between individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations, or entities. States may also bring forth lawsuits and are treated as a private party.
The person who brings forth a lawsuit is a plaintiff -- the party who claims it has incurred a loss. The defendant is the one who must respond to the suit brought forth by the plaintiff. Once both parties present their evidence, a judge or court will issue a judgment, either in the plaintiff's favor, or in the defendant's favor.
Lawsuits may also be classified as criminal lawsuits (though these aren't as common). Typically, lawsuits involve civil matters regarding monetary loss or property disputes.
Public Records and Lawsuits
Lawsuit judgments are available as public records in the courthouse or county district where the suit was filed. However availability of the information depends on the particulars of the case and the court. While cases are still pending, the information may only be obtained by those involved in the lawsuit until a suit is settled and becomes public record. Lawsuits that have been settled within 30 days are generally available in public records where the lawsuit was litigated.