It’s important to understand the legal procedure if you are sued. When you first receive the Summons and Complaint it may be from a registered agent you hired, a lawyer who setup your business or you may receive the documents personally or other methods. You have a very limited time to respond to the lawsuit-State Court is typically 30 days and Federal Court 20 days. By the time you contact a lawyer and setup a meeting with a lawyer it can easily be 7 days into the process so time is of the essence. If the other side is seeking an injunction or temporary restraining order these could happen even sooner in certain circumstances.
Responding to the Summons/Complaint
Some owners attempt to file a response on their own and discover that they make major mistakes. Some first time businesses think they can just answer the questions or use their own format, file a written letter. Many business owners think the case is not valid and it should just be dismissed. This is unlikely. At the pleading stage the Court presumes everything in the lawsuit is accurate. The Judge review your evidence at this stage. This is simply not the case and you very likely will have problems including losing your case because you didn’t follow the proper procedure.
There are many options and a few are below
- Answer the Lawsuit OR
- File a Demurrer/Motion to Strike/Attack service/Attack jurisdiction after meet and confer in State Court OR
- File a Motion to Dismiss Attack service/Attack jurisdiction after meet and confer in Federal Court
If you are a legal entity like a corporation, Limited Liability Company or Partnership then you must be represented by an attorney and your entity must be active-not suspended/dissolved/terminated
The above is known as the Pleading stage.
Discovery Stage (Discovery is the process of finding out information)
In a business litigation case this is where you propound questions in writing (interrogatories) or orally (deposition), request documents, or request the parties to admit or deny statements and you may receive the same requests. These can be quite lengthy and can be multiple sets. Many business owners do not understand these requests and believe the attorney should respond for them. The discovery requests are requesting information from the client. The attorney will determine if there are any viable objections, whether the information must be produced but it is the client’s job to provide the attorney with the information
Motion Stage (Motions include terminating the case, compelling discovery etc.)
We can’t include every possible motion. Two common motions is the motion to compel discovery if the other side is not providing what was requested and the attorney disagrees with the objection. The other common motion, in State Court is Summary Judgement. Basically stating there is no triable issue of fact and the Court can determine that the case should not proceed.
Settlement-Most cases settle before trial.
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