The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Looking Up Opposing Party's Past Cases


I'm writing an article about pseudonymity in civil litigation, and I wanted to accurately describe both its pluses and its minuses.

Here's one practical detail I'd like to adequately cover: My sense is that, when people sue you, it can sometimes be helpful to research what other cases they had filed against other parties. (Likewise, if you sue someone, it could be helpful to research what other cases had been filed against them.)

Perhaps they have a pattern of filing a particular kind of lawsuit, and that might prove relevant. Or perhaps they made particular assertions in those claims that might be useful. Or perhaps something found against them can be used for purposes of nonmutual collateral estoppel. Or perhaps it's something else, which I don't know about. If they had filed (or defended) those lawsuits pseudonymously, you would find it much harder to do that research. (Note that I'm inquiring into attempts to research past lawsuits filed by an opposing party, not opposing counsel.)

Am I right that lawyers sometimes do this sort of thing, and get useful information? Please let me know, either in the comments or by e-mail to volokh at Many thanks!