I’m being sued

If you have just been served with a Summons and a Complaint to appear in Court, you are now the defendant in a lawsuit. These are official court documents and shouldn’t be ignored. Not responding can lead to a default judgment against you and collection efforts can begin such as wage garnishment, freezing your bank account, and repossessing your property. 

The Court in which the lawsuit was filed is likely based on the claim. Small Claims Court cases outside of New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties can adjudicate cases up to $5,000 in City Courts or up to $3,000 in Town and Village Courts. The Civil Courts can only decide cases up to $50,000 and Supreme Courts allow an unlimited amount of money. The venue should also be where you or the complainant live, do business or where the dispute started. 

The Summons will list the: 

  • Complainant’s name.
  • Why are they suing. 
  • The amount they are asking the Court for.
  • The response deadline.

You should read everything carefully and decide on your response strategy: 

  • You can attempt to negotiate with the complainant or enter mediation to resolve the dispute.
  • Raise procedural issues on improper notice, invalid court venue, or jurisdiction.
  • Make a demand for proof. 
  • Make a Motion to Dismiss with the Court.
  • Answer the Summons; Prepare your case and defend yourself. 
  • File a Counterclaim.

There are a lot of options at this point so meeting with an attorney to review them within your specific situation could be prudent. Remember to keep track of court deadlines and respond in a timely and professional manner. 

Link to NYS Unified Court System’s “Guide to Small Claims Courts”

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