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I’ve Been Sued in Federal Court: What do I Do?

Being named as a defendant in a lawsuit is always stressful. This is especially true when you received notice that a federal lawsuit has been filed against you. A lawsuit in federal court can be brought only under limited circumstances, such as when a case arises out of federal law or when a plaintiff and defendant are from different states and the amount in controversy is $75,000 or greater. Because federal cases are often high-stakes cases with a significant amount of money that could potentially be lost, it is imperative you are fully prepared and make informed choices on how to respond when you receive notice of a lawsuit. I've Been Sued in Federal Court: What do I Do?

When you are sued in federal court, you have a limited time to respond to the summons and complaint.  An experienced Irvine, CA litigation lawyer who handles federal cases can help you to respond within the deadline and to make informed choices about every step of defending yourself after a lawsuit has been filed against you.  Brown & Charbonneau, LLP has experienced litigators who have successfully represented clients in business litigation and in other lawsuits in federal court. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can provide assistance with your case.

What to Do When You Are Sued in Federal Court

Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes the general time frame in which you must serve a responsive pleading (i.e. serve an answer or respond to a lawsuit that has been filed against you).

According to Rule 12, you must provide an answer either within 21 days after being served with the summons and complaint or you must provide an answer:

  • Within 60 days after having timely waived service under Rule 4(d) OR
  • Within 90 days of the time that a summons and complaint was sent to a defendant who is outside of the judicial district of the United States

If you were properly served and do not provide a response within the deadline, the court may enter a default judgment against you. Essentially, this would mean the plaintiff would prevail and you would lose the case without having an opportunity to respond to the accusations being made against you.

When you are sued in federal court and you respond, you can file several different types of responses. One option is to file an “answer” addressing the allegations made in the plaintiff’s case against you. You must raise any affirmative defenses in your answer as well.

Another option is to file a responsive motion, which should be filed if you believe there is some legal reason why you should not have to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint. For example, if you believe the statute of limitations has passed, you could file a motion to have the case dismissed.

Brown & Charbonneau, LLP will help you to determine what to do if you are sued in federal court. As soon as you receive notice that you are being sued, call to speak with our Irvine litigation lawyers.