Case Names and Level Names

Editors used modern criteria for legal citation to standardize the names of legal cases: the first names of all litigants are omitted; when there were only two plaintiffs or defendants, both are named; when there were more than two plaintiffs or defendants, one is named, followed by et al. (and others); company or partnership names are used instead of the names of the individual members; and when a company name began with an initial or first name, that is retained (e.g., S. C. Davis & Co.) Et ux. is used when the second plaintiff or defendant was the wife of the first, while titles such as administrator, executor, heirs, assignee, and next friend are omitted. Editors have retained ex rel. and conservators in case names. The full names of all litigants are included as case participants in the case details.

The name of a case in the database may vary at different levels of court for a variety of reasons. Sometimes litigants died during the case, which continued in the name of an administrator or executor. In the documents themselves the name of a case may vary based upon the clerk’s errors or inconsistencies. Also, within the process of a case, bills for injunction or discovery could be filed by different litigants or the same litigants, but in different roles. Depending upon the court, some case names changed on appeal. For example, in appeals from inferior courts to the county circuit courts, the case name did not change because the case was retried. The plaintiff and defendant positions in the original case name are retained, even though the plaintiff may in fact become the named defendant in the appeal. However, at the state and federal supreme courts, the litigant names may reverse, depending upon who sought the appeal. At this level of court, the case is not retried. The appeals court judged only the charge of technical errors. The editors have named each case based upon the name at the highest level of court in which it was heard. The name at the other levels of court is included in the case details. (See Pleading and Practice for more information.)

The editors incorporated references to some well-known cases that are generally known by a descriptive “nickname” which may not resemble the actual case name (i.e., "Effie Afton" instead of Hurd et al. v. Rock Island Bridge Co.) These nicknames for well-known cases are searchable through the subject search.