This series applies to California lawsuits only. For rules regarding your state’s civil litigation procedure, visit the website for your specific state’s judicial branch. This is a very broad overview. Multiple considerations must take place and detailed analysis goes into each step.
You wouldn’t operate on yourself so consult with a lawyer if you have a legal dispute.
Here’s a quick orientation on filing a lawsuit in California. This article discusses the actions within the blue circle.
How to Respond to a Lawsuit?
Get thee to a lawyer – as I mentioned in Part VI, lawsuits are very deadline driven and blowing the deadline to respond to a lawsuit could result in a default judgment against you, which translates to you automatically lose.
What is the Deadline for Responding to a Lawsuit in California?
Within 30 days after service of the complaint. The clock starts to run the day after you were handed the Summons and Complaint unless that deadline is extended by an agreement with the Plaintiff’s attorney or by court order. (CCP 412.20(a)(3).)
NOTE: A Defendant in an unlawful detainer action only has 5 days to respond.
How Do I Respond to the Lawsuit?
It depends on your individual circumstances and even the Complaint itself. Your lawyer may decide to file one or a few of these documents, all of which have specific requirements:
Petition to Compel Arbitration if there is an arbitration agreement that covers the dispute alleged in the Complaint.
Demurrer that tests the legal sufficiency of the Complaint.
Motion to Strike all or part of the Complaint to attack defects in the pleading.
An Answer to the Complaint that outlines your denials and affirmative defenses.
Cross-Complaint against the Plaintiff or another person.
Filing and Service
All pleadings after the Complaint must be filed with the court along with payment of an initial filing fee, together with proof of service upon opposing parties or their counsel.
The rules are complicated and mistakes could be costly. Contact a California business attorney or call (949) 529-0007 to discuss the best way for you to defend a lawsuit.
Next up, learn about the discovery phase of litigation.
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