Latin for "at first sight." Prima facie may be used as an adjective meaning "sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted;" e.g., prima facie evidence. It may also be used as an adverb meaning "on first appearance but subject to further evidence or information;" e.g., the agreement is prima facie valid.
A prima facie case is the establishment of a legally required rebuttable presumption. It is generally understood as a flexible evidentiary standard that measures the effect of evidence as meeting, or tending to meet, the proponent's burden of proof on a given issue. In that sense, a prima facie case is a cause of action or defense that is sufficiently established by a party's evidence to justify a verdict in his or her favor, provided such evidence is not rebutted by the other party.
See, e.g., Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 (2007); Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002); Hernandez v. New York, 500 US 352 (1991).
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
(pree-mah-fey-shah) Latin for "at first look" or "on its face." A prima facie case is one that at first glance presents sufficient evidence for the plaintiff to win. The defendant must refute the case in some way to have a chance of prevailing at trial. For example, if you can show that someone intentionally touched you in a harmful or offensive way and caused some injury to you, you have established a prima facie case of battery. However, this does not mean that you automatically win your case. The defendant would win if he could show that you consented to the harmful or offensive touching
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:22 pm