Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary
v. the order or ruling of a judge that one issue in a case can be tried to a conclusion or a judgment given on one phase of the case without trying all aspects of the matter. A typical example is when the judge will grant a divorce judgment without hearing evidence or making a ruling on such issues as division of marital property, child custody or spousal support (alimony). Thus the parties can be free of each other promptly while still fighting over other issues at their leisure. In a negligence case when the question of responsibility (liability) is clearly in doubt or rests on some legal technicality, the court may bifurcate the issues and hear evidence on the defendant’s liability and decide that issue before going ahead with a trial on the amount of damages. If the court rules there is no liability, then the amount of damages is meaningless and further trial is necessary.
To separate the issues in a case so that one issue or set of issues can be tried and resolved before the others. For example, death penalty cases are always bifurcated. The court or jury first hears the evidence of guilt and reaches a verdict, and then hears evidence about and decides upon which punishment to impose (death or life in prison without parole). Bifurcated trials are also common in product liability class action lawsuits in which many people claim that they were injured by the same defective product — the issue of liability is tried first, followed by the question of damages. Bifurcation is authorized by Rule 42(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
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This glossary post was last updated: 26th April, 2020 | 4 Views.