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Frequently Asked Questions.

What is this lawsuit? Why am I being sued?

A lawsuit is when a person or Company is suing another person or company to request that the Court decide a dispute. Usually, the person filing the lawsuit is looking for a Court to declare their rights or award monetary damages. Why someone is sued is usually explained in the Complaint or lawsuit that typically is either a standard form with checkboxes or paragraphs explaining the lawsuit and what the suing party wants.

Do I have to respond to the lawsuit? When is my response due?

If you have been served properly (which varies depending on the Court and state or country law), then you generally have to answer a lawsuit if you wish to contest the lawsuit. If you do not respond to the lawsuit, then the Court may (usually upon request of a party or sometimes itself) take a default against you. Default means that you are prevented from responding to the Complaint until the Court has given you permission (you must take steps to ask the Court for this permission). The time to respond depends on the Court involved and the method of service. In most cases, the Summons (a document that accompanies the lawsuit or Complaint) will tell you how many days you have to file a written response with the Court (and provide to the other side). This response needs to follow a specific response format and requirements, as failure to do so, may subject you to Default.

Was I served?

Service and its requirements are different depending on which Court and state is involved. Service directly on the named Defendant (handed to them) is almost always good service. Alternatively, if that service cannot be done, there are methods of substituted service. Substituted service means serving someone other than the named Defendant directly. For individuals, service can be done at their residence by leaving the papers with someone 18 years or older, and usually mailed as well. Alternatively, it could be left with someone over 18 years old at a place of work, and thereafter mailed as well. For Corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) etc., the service is usually accomplished by serving their agent for service of process, as registered with the Secretary of State.

How much money is the other side asking me for?

In the lawsuit (called a Complaint in California), there is sometimes a specific amount of money demanded in the Complaint, sometimes there is not. If there is a specific amount, that dollar amount may be listed in the Complaint or in a part of the Complaint called a “Prayer for Relief” If no specific number is mentioned, you may be able to get some idea of the amount by looking at Exhibits to the Complaint (such as a contract). If there is no mention there, then for California state Court cases, there is one other hint of how much money a person filing a lawsuit is seeking. If the case has the words, “Small Claims” on it, then it is no more than $10,000. If the case has the words, Civil Limited, then the amount demanded is likely between $10,000 and $25,000. Note that the $10,000 to $25,000 range is for individuals, as corporations have a lower dollar amount threshold to be in a Civil Limited case. Finally, if the case has the words, “Unlimited Civil” or “Civil Unlimited” then the amount demanded is over $25,000.

What is a Case Management Conference?

A Case Management Conference is a hearing by the Court where the Court reviews the status of the case and determines what future hearings or schedule should happen in the case. Often the Court may discuss service of the lawsuit, settlement options, alternative dispute resolution, discovery or trial setting. You must appear at this conference (or your attorney) and be ready to discuss the case. Before the conference, you should also file a Case Management Statement. You need to check local and state rules for deadlines on filing the Case Management Statement.

What can I do to resolve my case?

Cases get resolved either resolved by the Court or by the Parties, or arbitration if that occurs. To resolve the case, either parties must make motions to try to get the Court to rule in their favor, or to present their case at trial to obtain a ruling in their favor and judgment in their favor. More commonly, cases are resolved by the parties negotiating or voluntarily settling their case. Settlement can occur at any time in a case. Settlement means that the parties have agreed to resolve their dispute on terms they reach, such as one party agreeing to pay another, or both agreeing to walk away from the dispute.

This Blog is intended for general educational content and is not legal advice nor a replacement for contacting a lawyer. The law firm is not responsible for results obtained by following this advice by persons who have not hired the firm. This Blog may not address all situations or be accurate for a specific situation. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice.