Most civil litigation is about compensating injured individuals or corporations, or
preventing future harm through injunctive relief. The exceptions are those
cases where government agencies use civil proceedings to collect money or
enforce regulations, and divorce cases. In compensation cases, the monetary
damages—the amount of money necessary to “make the plaintiff whole”— are
the engine that drives civil litigation. If the plaintiff is personally wealthy or
backed by a litigation advocacy group such as the American Civil Liberties
Union, the decision to proceed with the case may be made on moral principle.
Otherwise, without adequate damages to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s
contingent fee and provide reasonable compensation for the client, most
plaintiffs will be unable to obtain representation.