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Plaintiff v Defendant - the "v" is pronounced "and" in civil cases and "against" in criminal cases

However, I've seen a few cases not following this rule. For example, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, where the party of Twombly is the plaintiff. Why is that?

  • 2
    Strange, wonder if that's an Australianism. In the US I always hear it pronounced "vee". Dec 24, 2016 at 6:25
  • @chrylis Yeah, there's definitely not any kind of widespread convention on that here U.S. that I'm familiar with. It's always possible that there are some localities here and there where that's a the custom, but I'm not personally aware of any, and have never heard any colleagues who were/are also attorneys mention practicing in any place with that convention. Dec 24, 2016 at 10:00
  • On the topic of "v.", "versus", and "against", my impression, FWIW, is that use of "against" has been steadily declining in the legal profession over the years/decades, and is now uncommon compared to the other two. Which is not to say that it's wrong, or that lawyers and judges don't say it sometimes to be a little colloquial or break up the monotony of saying "vee" or "versus" many times in a short span. But if I heard a lawyer say a phrase like" Bell Atlantic Corp. against Twombly" it would sound a little ...well, archaic. (Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that.) Dec 24, 2016 at 10:14
  • In England and Wales "v" is pronounced "and". Oct 31, 2018 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


In appellate cases, the party appealing is called the "petitioner", and the other party is called the "respondent". These cases are listed Petitioner v. Respondent.

In your example, Twombly was the original plaintiff, and Bell was the defendant in a class-action. This initial action would have been referred to as Twombly v. Bell. The case was dismissed by the trial court.

Twombly appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. This action would have been still been called Twombly v. Bell, since Twombly was the party petitioning for the appeal. The 2nd Circuit agreed with Twombly, and reversed the district court's decision.

Bell, then on the losing side, decided to appeal to the US Supreme Court. Because Bell was the petitioner in this action, Bell gets listed first.

  • I would like to note here in state courts, this is not necessarily true. They often keep it as Plaintiff v. Defendant.
    – xuhdev
    Oct 14, 2020 at 5:03

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