Calif: in civil litigation: other side served you with the wrong unrelated - all persons --Summons and Complaint?
6 attorney answers
If you were serveid with a summons and complaint that has your name on it, you need to respond, even if other people are also named in the summons and complaint. It is never a good idea to plan on waiting for trial to ask for a dismissal -- either you are not in the case, and therefore can't be dismissed, or you are, you know it, and you should be participating. Further, if you do not respond, the plaintiff may ask the court to enter a default against you, and then seek a default judgment, which, if entered, will mean the judgment will be entered against you without a trial. It is always better to respond and object to what you have been served with as insufficient, than to ignore it and hope it and expect to be excused later.
If you have been served with a summons,. A summons actually consists of two parts: a summons and a complaint. The complaint outlines the accusations made against you and the summons is an order of the court directing you to appear to answer to the charges made in the complaint. Generally, these documents are referred to as a single action called Summons and Complaint.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, it may be in your best interest to consult with an attorney before you proceed. However, do not under any circumstances ignore the summons. This will almost certainly result in a default judgment being recorded against you. The other side may present this judgment for execution, which means that the creditor will be able to place a lien against your bank accounts or real property. It may also subject you to an income execution from your paycheck.
When you are served with a summons, there will be a time period specified in which you are required to answer. If a Process Server served you in person, then you will usually have 20 days to answer. However, you will usually have 30 days to answer the summons if it was received by mail or any other method. Other methods include the summons being accepted by another resident of your household who is over the age of 18.
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You are under no obligation to Answer a Complaint, served upon you, which does not name you as a party (including DOE Amendments). However, you may have been "substitute served" on behalf of someone else, in which case you should inform the party on who's behalf you were served (so they don't default).
You should also contact the plaintiff's attorney to let him know the situation and keep notes as to the date, time and place where you were served, the server's physical description and the date, time, identity of anyone at the plaintiff's office you spoke with and the subject matter of the conversation. This information may be valuable if you need to file a Motion to Quash Service or to Set Aside Default.
This answer is for informational purposes only. No attorney/client relationship is created, intended or implied. You should seek independent legal counsel of your choice to address your individual circumstances.
Unless you respond within the time mentioned on the summons, your default may be entered and you will thereafter be unable to defend against the allegations in the complaint. You should consult an attorney immediately who can review the facts and allegations in the complaint with you. It is possible you were served, as opposed to the "right" person, because you have a similar name. It is also possible that because of some legal relationship, even though you do not recognize the parties, you have legal liability. DO NOT "DO NOTHING". That is a sure way to get a judgment entered against you.
I am licensed in California only and my responses assume California law. They are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon by you. I provide legal advice only during the course of an attorney-client relationship. The exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by direct, individual consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement by each of us.
It is possible that you have been served as a Doe. That is, your name might not be on the complaint, but the plaintiff may have subsequently identified you as a Doe. If this is the case, you need to respond to the complaint.
You should have a lawyer look at the papers immediately.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, and if you still think there is an error, do not ignore it. Call the attorney who filed the complaint (name and phone number are on the summons) and explain what you think the problem might be. The lawyer will either explain why you were served, or acknowledge an error.
DO NOT simply do nothing. And do not wait until trial to explain yourself. You have to answer to avoid a default judgment.
I am licensed only in California and this response is provided as general information only. It is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be based on the exact facts of the particular situation, and by necessity this forum is not appropriate for discussion of specific, exact facts. Contact a lawyer for more specific advice. My answer to your question on AVVO does not create an attorney-client relationship.