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Can you leave the summons and complaint with a clerk if you are suing an organization?

Los Angeles, CA |

I am suing a government agency and non-profit affliate. The summons was taken and signed for by a clerk in the office who said "she had never done this before". If after 21 days the defendant has not answered, can the complaint be reserved with the sheriff?

Attorney Answers 2


If they accepted service and were an authorized agent to do so on behalf of the corporation, after 30 days you can move the court for a default judgment.

In regards to suing a government agency, you will need to comply with the government code which has very specific requirements that you need to meet before filing a lawsuit.

It is best you contact an attorney who sues government entities to navigate the complex procedural rules.

This is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This is not legal advice, it is only legal information. You should consult an attorney if you have any questions regarding this matter.

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How would I know if they were an authorized agent. If the company is trying to delay service, they could put anyone out front?

Ian A. Scharg

Ian A. Scharg


If the defendant was served properly, and the defendant does not file an answer, you can file for a default. Generally the receptionist is the one who is served and thus they will likely have forwarded the summons/complaint to her higher ups who will likely retain counsel.



Last question: The Secretary of State website for my state list the registered agent as a COO who was long ago terminated. Can I use this in court if they challenge the summons?


I would like a little more information. Specifically, is the non-profit a corporation? If so, you should check the ca. Secretary of State website ( ) which will tell you if it is a corporation and who the "Agent for Service of Process" is.

As to the government entity, generally speaking you have to file a claim, which has to be rejected, before you can file the lawsuit. Suits against government entity are very technical and you should probably contact an attorney. I hope this helps.

Good Luck!

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