What happens if a LLC company can't afford an attorney and has been sued for back wages? Can owner of co. be sued as individual?

Asked over 4 years ago - Los Angeles, CA

The employee had a history of violent behavior. There were several verbal complaints from people who worked with the employee (in a couple instances the police was called) about this problem. Nevertheless, I kept giving this employee a job aware that the worker was an older person and was having a hard time financially. The employee wanted to work long hours and demanded 7 days a week 12 hours a day. If I didn't give this employee those hours, the employee would call and get angry. We both knew and agreed that I couldn't pay overtime. Yet, I knew it was wrong. So when I insinuated to reduce the hours, the worker would threaten me with physical violence. What should I do? What's the best way to respond to the lawsuit? Can I get my name (as an individual) off the lawsuit?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Your LLC can't represent itself, so it needs a lawyer. You as an individual defendant can represent yourself, but it's not a good idea, and unless the plaintiff has alleged "alter ego" claims against you and the LLC and there's reason to pierce the LLC "veil," you shouldn't be liable for LLC obligations and a lawyer should be able to get you dismissed.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  2. Steven Alan Fink

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . My colleagues are correct about the LLC. You can, however, be personally liable under the Labor laws as the owner for failing to pay wages and overtime.

    The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.

  3. Andrew Daniel Myers

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I agree fully with attorney Koslyn's advice. An LLC is required by law to have an attorney represent it in court proceedings.

    Also, based on what you are saying, a motion to dismiss at this early stage may be a good alternative, if not to get the entire case thrown out, to potentially have some of the unfounded counts rejected. From your posting, it sounds like the legal complaint is not well founded on legal claims but may be the result of the "let's throw in the kitchen sink" approach to bringing a law suit.

    A motion to dismiss, and a later motion for summary judgment, are legal surgery which can remove unfounded claims.

    All available defenses must be raised in a timely manner, now, under your court's rules or else you will be deemed to have waived them.

    Finally, employment claims are extremely difficult for plaintiffs to prevail upon. You need a very aggresive approach to discovery in order to 'pick away' at the existence or non existence of facts that would support the claimed legal causes of action. Discovery includes interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions and depositions. You would also be entitled to subpoena certain information.

    If, after agressive discovery, it turns out that the claims in the case are legally unsupported, a motion for summary judgment may be brought on your behalf. And, unless the other side can establish that there are material factual disputes, then you may well be entitled to a judgment as a matter of law, which dismisses the case.

    Based on what you are saying, you and the LLC can not afford not to have an attorney help you through.

    This answer is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided in an office consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies.

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