Prima Facie Definition

(pree-mah-fey-shah) Latin for "at first look" or "on its face."

A prima facie case is one that presents sufficient evidence for the plaintiff (the party filing a civil lawsuit) to win. The defendant (the party being sued) must defeat one or more elements of a prima facie case to have a chance of winning at trial.

For example, if the plaintiff shows that the defendant intentionally touched them in a harmful or offensive way and caused an injury, the plaintiff has established a prima facie case of battery. But this doesn't mean that the plaintiff automatically wins. The defendant wins if they can show, for example, that the touching wasn't harmful or offensive to a reasonable person, thus defeating an element of the plaintiff's prima facie case.