During the course of any case in litigation, one or both parties to the lawsuit may file motions with the court. Generally, a party will file a motion with the court to get the court to rule on an issue of the case. The issue might deal with what is called procedure, or the rules in which a lawsuit is handled. Such a procedural motion could come in the form of a motion in limine. In this type of motion, a party asks the court to rule on the admissibility of evidence before it is presented at trial.
Another reason why a party might want to file a motion is to dismiss the plaintiff's case. Remember, in a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the involved healthcare provider breached the standard of care and caused them damage. If the plaintiff's proof is very weak or not supported by expert physician testimony, then the defense may ask the court to throw the case out because the plaintiff cannot meet their burden of proving that malpractice occurred. A motion for summary judgment is one type of motion to dismiss. If the court grants this motion, the case is over before it ever goes to a jury.
Other types of motions may include a motion to compel another party or witness to produce documents or information which has been requested, but which that party is refusing to produce because of some claim of privilege or other reason. In some states, partial settlements require court approval before allowing the case to continue against other parties. Most states require court approval of any settlement involving a minor.
Motions to amend or supplement pleadings like the original petition are also commonly filed motions. Another popular motion which is usually filed by the defendant is a motion to dismiss the case because it was not filed within the applicable statute of limitations (in Louisiana the statute of limitations is referred to as prescription). Motions to change venue occur when a plaintiff files a case in a jurisdiction that is not a proper place to bring the case under applicable laws.
In most instances, the losing party simply abides by the court's ruling on the motion if it is unfavorable to them. However, in some instances, the losing party may seek to appeal the court's ruling on the motion. This can delay a lawsuit substantially. This is especially true if they lose at the court of appeals and they seek to have the matter reviewed by the state supreme court.
In some instances, cases can be delayed for years as the parties go back and forth with motions before the trial court and the court of appeals on numerous issues. This can be frustrating to the patient's attorney and the client. However, the plaintiff's attorney cannot prevent the defense from filing motions or appeals.