Election Of Remedies Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Election Of Remedies, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Election Of Remedies?

n. an outmoded requirement that if a plaintiff (party filing suit) asks for two remedies based on legal theories which are inconsistent (a judge can grant only one or the other), the plaintiff must decide which one is the most provable and which one he/she really wants to pursue, usually just before the trial begins. Example: suing someone for both breach of contract and for fraud (a secret plan not to fulfill the contract when it was made). Fraud might bring punitive damages, but proof of fraud might be more difficult than of breach of contract. Increasingly, the courts have dispensed with the election of remedies as unfair to the plaintiff since the evidence has not been fully presented.

History and Definition of Election Of Remedies

Election of remedies is a legal doctrine that a plaintiff has to choose his/her remedy between two or more inconsistent remedies when two legal theories with contradictory remedies arise out of the same facts. The plaintiff needs to decide which remedy they will use to file a lawsuit, as they can only pursue one. This doctrine is essential for promoting consistent verdicts and preventing double recovery. Generally, the plaintiff has to make a decision about which remedy to pursue before trial commences.

This doctrine dates back to the English Common Law's equity and legal systems, where one could not seek both legal and equitable remedies. As per the doctrine, the plaintiff can select only one of the inconsistent remedies, and the election is often irrevocable. It is the plaintiff's choice to select which legal theory to pursue, and the court will grant remedies only for that legal theory.

Examples of Election Of Remedies

  1. A plaintiff cannot claim her money back, pursue asset forfeiture and draft an injunction order at the same time.
  2. The doctrine frequently arises in cases involving employment law, where an employee seeks corrective discipline and damages.
  3. In a medical malpractice case, a patient may request general damages for pain and suffering and specific damages for medical expenses.

Related Terms

  1. Double recovery - Double Recovery is the recovery of two compensations for the same injury. The federal and state systems generally prohibit double recovery.
  2. Res Judicata - Res Judicata means that after the same parties resolve a claim, they cannot address the same dispute through a new lawsuit.
  3. Collateral Estoppel - Collateral Estoppel indicates that the judgment and issue decided in one case may not be relitigated in a separate case by the same or different parties.
  4. Waiver of right - An intentional relinquishment of a known right is a waiver of right. A party may waive the right to sue or an individual may waive the privilege against self-incrimination.
  5. Priority of Remedies – Priority of Remedies indicates that when a debtor becomes insolvent, and various parties are entitled to satisfy their claims only through the assets of the debtor, priority among them must be established.