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You’ve been served: What happens after being served with a lawsuit?


After a Summons and Complaint are filed and served on the Defendant, a Plaintiff is often times anxious to move the case along.  There are three possibilities that will occur after the Defendant receives the Summons and Complaint: (1) serve an Answer; (2) file a motion to dismiss; (3) do nothing and default.

An Answer is a response to the Complaint.  It will admit, deny, or deny knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief concerning the allegations set forth in the Complaint.  The Answer may also contain Affirmative Defenses, which are legal defenses that a Defendant may allege shields them from liability.  A Defendant may also file counterclaims.  It is important to note that should the Defendant fail to file counterclaims in the Answer arising from the same events, occurrences, and transactions as those in the Complaint, the Defendant will not be able to raise them at a later time.

A Defendant may alternatively file a motion to dismiss.  There are numerous grounds upon which a motion to dismiss may be filed.  In a motion to dismiss the Defendant is asking the Court to dismiss the lawsuit for a specific reason.  After the motion is filed, there will be an opportunity for the Plaintiff to file opposition papers and the Defendant will then be able to file reply papers.

The manner in which a Defendant was served will impact the amount of time that they have to file an Answer or Motion to Dismiss.  If the Defendant was personally served with the Summons and Complaint, they have 20 days to file an Answer or Motion to Dismiss.  If they were served in any other manner, they have 30 days to file their Answer or Motion to Dismiss.

Due to the nuances of the legal system, it is important that you make the right choice in determining the selection of an attorney to handle your litigation matters. Should you have further questions concerning this or other litigation matters, please contact The Siegel Law Firm, P.C.

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