What if you are Sued by Someone?

You received a summons and complaint – what happens now?  In civil lawsuits, the proceeding begins with a summons and complaint.  This is your notification that you are being sued.

Step One

Contact an attorney.  It is best to contact an attorney as soon as you receive a summons and complaint to fully and accurately evaluate your options.

Step Two

Carefully review the summons and complaint to understand what the issue is and who is suing you.  Also review the summons and complaint to find out which jurisdiction and court the action will take place.  If the action is in small claims court, the rules and proceeding differ from a traditional lawsuit.

Step Three

Calculate the time you have to respond.  Generally, you have 21 days in North Dakota and 20 days in Minnesota to respond in writing to the plaintiff.  Do not ignore a summons and complaint.  The relatively short time period to respond is another reason to immediately contact an attorney when served with a summons and complaint.  If you do not respond, the party suing you can seek a default judgment, meaning the opposing party may automatically obtain a judgment against you because you failed to respond.

Step Four

Consider your options moving forward.  Are you willing to settle the dispute? If you are willing to settle, it is best to come to an early resolution in order to save time and money.

Do you have any counterclaims against the opposing party relevant to the lawsuit? If so, your response should include any relevant counterclaims.

Another option is to file a motion to dismiss.  If you believe the court lacks jurisdiction over the matter or the opposing party does not have a valid claim, a motion to dismiss may quickly resolve the action.  The above provides just a few of the options you have when you are served with a lawsuit.

The potential actions you may take and other options are best evaluated with the assistance of an attorney. If you have been sued, attorney Sean Foss can help you.  Contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss in Fargo, North Dakota to discuss your case or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.