3 Elements of Standing to Sue
February 10, 2022 | Sagi Shaked | Personal Injury
In Florida, you cannot file a lawsuit simply because you don’t like a law. A group of law students, for example, cannot file a lawsuit simply to resolve a legal question that intrigues them. A court would dismiss such a lawsuit due to a lack of legal standing to sue.
Florida’s requirement for legal standing is based on a time-honored legal concept that includes three distinct elements:
- Injury in fact,
- Causation, and
You cannot maintain a lawsuit in Florida unless you meet all three requirements. The purpose of standing is to prevent people from clogging the courts with lawsuits filed by people with no real stake in the outcome of the case.
How to Challenge Your Opponent’s Legal Standing to Sue
Juries do not determine whether you have standing to sue. Instead, the defendant must file a Motion to Dismiss, which claims that the other side lacks legal standing to file the lawsuit. The judge will review the pleadings submitted by the parties. It will deny the Motion to Dismiss if it appears reasonably likely that the requirements for standing are present.
Dismissals With and Without Prejudice
If a judge dismisses a lawsuit based on lack of standing, they will typically dismiss it “without prejudice.” A dismissal without prejudice leaves open the possibility that you could file the lawsuit again after you obtain standing. A “dismissal with prejudice” means that you can never file the lawsuit again.
Standing: The Legal Definition
The legal definition of standing includes three distinct elements, as described below.
Injury in Fact
The first requirement for standing is that you must have suffered a real injury. This injury could be a physical injury, a financial loss, or a violation of your civil rights, among other possible injuries. Even if you suffered an injury in fact, you must also show the court that you have a reasonable possibility of proving that injury through admissible evidence.
The causation requirement for standing requires a connection between the defendant’s actions and the injury that you are alleging. If there is no such connection, or if the connection is too weak or indirect, then you have failed to meet the second requirement for legal standing.
Redressability refers to whether the court can provide relief if you prove your claim. Most injuries are redressable if they cause financial losses to the plaintiff. However, suppose, for example, that your best friend falls into a coma due to medical malpractice. You file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your mental suffering due to this tragedy.
Florida’s wrongful death law does not authorize compensation for the psychological suffering of friends of a personal injury victim. You would lack standing to sue because you failed to meet the redressability requirement for legal standing.
Can You Artificially Manufacture Standing to Sue?
Many people have tried to manufacture standing to file a lawsuit, and some of them have been successful. If someone wants to challenge the constitutionality of a law, for example, they might intentionally break it. If the police arrest them, they might gain legal standing to challenge the law in court.
In some cases, someone might manufacture standing for the purpose of asking the court to declare a criminal law unconstitutional. In other cases, however, the purpose is to file a civil rights lawsuit for money damages. Manufacturing standing for a personal injury lawsuit, by contrast, is not particularly common.
Make Sure You Have Legal Standing Before You File a Florida Lawsuit
The requirements for legal standing are subtle and nuanced. If you have any doubt as to whether you have legal standing to file a lawsuit, consult with a personal injury lawyer. The judge’s determination of whether you have standing can depend on how well your complaint is worded.