It is not unusual for one of my clients to call my office and let me know that they have been served with a lawsuit. Now those claims can range from anywhere — from frivolous to being much more serious and severe, such as allegations of breaches of the securities laws, allegations for fraud, or conversion of assets.
If you are a very established company, maybe getting served with a lawsuit is a validation that your company is on the right track because you are growing at a fast rate however, for most small businesses and start-ups getting served with a lawsuit can be the kiss of death, and even if it is not, it can be a very strenuous, anxiety-producing, an overall unpleasant process.
I am going to outline for you below five (5) steps that you should take the second you get served with a lawsuit to make sure that your interests are protected.
Step Number 1: Read the caption to find out exactly who is a name defended in the lawsuit. Is it you specifically? Is it an individual? Is it your company? Are their directors and officers of the company being sued including you? Is it a subsidiary of a company that you own? Knowing exactly who are the defendants is a major piece of the puzzle.
Step Number 2: Check the civil-action-number or the index-number. You will want to look the case up online. You are going to want to see if the case has actually been filed so that way you will know if the papers are being sent to you and are legitimately being used in court, or if they are simply being sent for a “shake-down” or making a quick attempt to settle.
Step Number 3: Make sure you know how the process was served when a compliant is actually served within the company. There are specific measures that have to be filed for service to be considered valid. If service is not valid that means that the compliance cannot actually pursue the merits, and in fact, you can move to have the entire case dismissed.
Step Number 4: Understand the specific allegations made against the defendants such as: what are your potential exposures and if the plaintiff has standing to actually bring the claim, which means, does he actually have the legal right to initiate the action against you and your business?
Step Number 5: Make sure that the case belongs where it has been filed. Often cases will be followed in jurisdictions that do not have personal or subject matter jurisdiction over the parties, and that could be for a numerous amount of reasons such as the claims occurring out of state. You may have contracts and agreements with the plaintiff if called for mandatory arbitration, so before you even get into the facts and the merits of the case itself, if you have a legitimate reason as to why the case should not proceed in court, you have a pre-answer motion to dismiss that you can initiate to ensure that the case does not proceed on the merits any further in that particular form.
Now, once you actually do this analysis and go through these steps, you may find that the claims alleged or not as daunting as you initially thought. You may also find that you have a number of different options to go ahead and get the case dismissed before it is even able to proceed on the merits.
If you have been served with a lawsuit or if you’re trying to navigate and meander the realm of business and commercial litigation if you have any questions at all, you can always contact Ross Pitcoff Law for a complementary consultation. We would be happy to assist you. Call our office at: (646) 386-0990 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your consultation today.