Answered Complaint in pro per for corporation. Motion to strike filed. Will judge give me time to find attorney?
Los Angeles, CA |
Corporation sued in Calif court. As owner, I filed and answer for corporation. Plaintiff filed a motion to strike stating corp. must be represented by an attorney. Will the judge give me time to find an attorney before a default is entered?
I have taken over many times for corporations that were represented by a non-attorney. They usually give you at least 20 days. IF you find an attorney ahead of time they take it off calendar because it is moot.
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It depends upon the judge, but the court ought to give the corporation a "reasonable" period of time to retain counsel to defend the corporation.
It is a long-standing common law rule of procedure, a corporation, unlike a natural person, cannot represent itself before courts of record in propria persona, nor can it represent itself through a corporate officer, director or other employee who is not an attorney. It must be represented by licensed counsel in proceedings before courts of record. (Caressa Camille, Inc. v. Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Bd. (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 1094, 1101-1103 & citations therein.)
See also Van Gundy v. Camelot Resorts, Inc. (1983) 152 Cal.App.3d Supp. 29, 32; and Gamet v. Blanchard (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 1276, 1284, n. 5; Corporations Code sections 17003, 17101; PacLink Communications Internat., Inc. v. Superior Court (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 958, 963; Grosset v. Wenaas (2008) 42 Cal.4th 1100, 1108.)
A motion to strike under Code of Civil Procedure section 435 et seq. is traditionally used to reach pleading defects that are not subject to demurrer. (CLD Construction, Inc. v. City of San Ramon (2004) 120 Cal. App. 4th 1141, 1146 [striking complaint subscribed only by non-attorney president], citing 5 Witkin, Cal. Proc., 4th ed., Pleading, § 960, p. 420.)
How much time did you have in mind?
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.
Some judges take the position that there was no answer filed, as a corporation may be represented only by a licensed lawyer, and since the corporation was validly served (the answer admits jurisdiction) the judge lacks the authority to allow the corporation to remain unrepresented. Thus, if the corporation fails to retain counsel before the hearing date, the answer will most likely be stricken, in which case a future lawyer will need to file a motion to set aside default. Retain counsel right now. Avvo's find a lawyer tab can help you find a suitable lawyer.
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I would think so--especially since many are not aware of the rule requiring that a corporation be represented by an attorney. However, this is not to say that you have an unlimited amount time to retain an attorney. So, get started on your search now. Best of luck to you.
If you have time, I recommend you hire an attorney prior to the hearing. Often, once the corporation is represented by an attorney, the Plaintiff's attorney will agree to take the Motion off calendar. If you would like to discuss this matter and the lawsuit, feel free to call me at 949-852-0020.