If I Don’t Know Why I Am Being Sued

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Normally, if a person or company receives a court order to go to small claims court it is not a complete surprise. Usually he or she knows why they are being sued.

If you do not know why you are being sued, contact the plaintiff immediately and ask for an explanation. 

  •  The plaintiff’s name and address are on the Plaintiff’s Claim (Form SC-100) that was given to you.

There are a number of possibilities, including

  • It may be a case of wrong identity. The plaintiff may be suing the wrong person or business, or the papers may have been served on the wrong person or business. 
  • There may be a misunderstanding. If you know the plaintiff, he or she may not have understood how you propose to pay. Or perhaps a payment you made was not recorded.

If you believe that this lawsuit is a mistake there are several things you can do. 

  • Ask the plaintiff to dismiss (cancel) the case with prejudice Opens new window – if you are the wrong person or business. 
  • Ask the plaintiff to dismiss (cancel) the case with without prejudice Opens new window – if you are the right person and you and the plaintiff can agree on how and when you are going to pay the debt.

If the plaintiff refuses to dismiss the claim for some reason:

  • You can file a request to dismiss the case (see Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice).
    Or, you can write a letter to the court, explaining that you are the wrong person or business being sued.  If the judge agrees, he or she could dismiss the case. 

    • When you file your request or mail your letter to the court, be sure to have a copy of your paperwork served Opens new window on the plaintiff.  The service can be by mail. (See How Service is Done.)
  • If you are the right defendant and fully intend to pay the debt in payments, you can try to persuade the plaintiff to go to mediation to set up an agreement and payment plan. (See What is Mediation?)  Most neighborhood dispute resolution centers offer mediation services.

IMPORTANT:  If the plaintiff has not dismissed the case before the trial hearing date, you must go to the hearing prepared to present evidence through documents or witnesses to explain your side of the case to the judge.





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