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What happens if I do not respond to a summons?

Florida |

I own 3 small business with my brother. Each is incorporated seperately, with less than 10 employees each. I received notice of summons regarding overtime pay from a former employee claiming she worked 50 hours regularly, which is false.
I have moved overseas, my businesses are not doing well, shut one down last year, looking to shut one down or transfer it (the one where the employee used to work at) I used to own 2 houses they were foreclosed, the same my brother's houses.
We had a similar situation 4 years ago with a former emplyee (friend of the one who is currently trying to sue us) and settled for $6000. This time we don't have the money, businesses are at a loss. If there is a judgement against us can they go after my other businesses? assuming they improve in the future?

Attorney Answers 4


The answer to the headline question is that a default judgment will enter against you and any defenses that you may legitimately have will be waived forever. If you are going to stay overseas forever, fine. In my experience, however, the taxing and other authorities of the state governments have an uncanny way of finding you if you do in fact want to recreate your identity back inside the USA borders.

I truly wish you the best.

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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If you ignore it, a default judgment will be entered against you and it will remain in place for a very long time. You shouldn't ignore it.

THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.

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The answer is complicated but as a general matter, any assets which you own may ultimately be attachable (assuming you own them alone) if there is a judgment against you. That said, if the companies are affiliated in some way, all of the companies may be reachable under FLSA (the law that you are porbably being sued under). Either way, as a practical matter, if you are out of the country (and don't intend to return) and your companies are not doing well, the only real exposure would ordinarily be a judgment against you personally and attachment of any reachable assets. Letting those companies go may be advisable and instead, down the road, forming new entities may be the way to go. The above is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

Eric A. Jacobs

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The first thing you need to do if and when you get sued is file an Answer. The summons will tell you that you must “appear” by way of an Answer in 10, 20 or 30 days, “depending on the method of service.”


You need a lawyer, but if you cannot afford one right away, rather then do nothing and have a judgment entered against you, is to “appear” by filing something!

Many people think this means they have to go to Court and this is incorrect. 90% of all lawsuits end in Default Judgments because the defendant (person getting sued) did not file an Answer.

I recommend you go to the free form I have on my website. Print it out and fill it out as instructed. You must answer the numbered paragraphs on the Complaint by writing them into the appropriate lines in the Answer. The Answer will allow you to preserve your rights and will prohibit a default judgment (i.e. you did not show up) from being entered against you.

Mimic the paperwork you got when you got sued. Answer all the paragraphs of the Complaint by writing the numbers in lines 1, 2 or 3.

Almost 100% of attorneys will deny what is owed because they did not do the calculations and do not know what the basis for the number is…

When you file the Answer that is your “not guilty”. You have the right to make the person suing you (Plaintiff) prove their case, but you must also answer the complaint truthfully.

Make sure you fill in the name and address of the attorney suing you before you bring this paperwork to the Court. Mail it to the attorney suing you right away!

Check out the guide I have drafted on the Avvo profile. This will provide more detailed instructions. If it is helpful remember to indicate that and get the guide read!

Good Luck!

Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.

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