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How do I find out if a civil suit has been filed on my behalf?

Buffalo, NY |

I had my friend Maddy file a civil suit on my behalf with the lawyer she worked for. This lawyer became ill and left the firm. My paperwork was handed to another lawyer. Maddy absolutely refuses to tell me the name of the new lawyer but insists a settlement has been made on my behalf. It's been 6 years of unanswered questions and promises that I have won the suit. If there really was a civil suit filed on my behalf, how do I find out if it has reached the courts or do I have to start over? Thank you!

Thank you Pamela! My "friend" assured me the court system takes a very, very long time to resolve a civil suit so I was under the impression this was normal....this is New York! I have been thoroughly taken! The civil suit was to recover $8688 I had loaned to another friend. I appreciate you advice.

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Attorney answers 3


Go to the court's website (linked below) and do a civil search for your name. I'm afraid that if a lawsuit hasn't been filed, your statute of limitations might have expired, for both the underlying suit and for any malpractice action against this lawsuit and against your "friend" for "helping" you and leading you to think you somehow had a case filed on our behalf and had to do absolutely nothing to win..

If your case was settled and you should have gotten some money 6 years ago, why on earth would you wait 6 years to do anything about this?

PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU COMMENT, EMAIL ME OR PHONE ME. I'm only licensed in CA. This answer doesn't make me your lawyer, and neither do follow-up comments and/or emails and/or phone calls, and you shouldn't expect me to respond to your further questions if you haven't hired me. We need an actual agreement confirmed in writing before any attorney-client relationship is formed. This answer doesn't constitute legal advice, and shouldn't 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.


Check in the civil and/or supreme courts to see if the case was filed. You can also tell your friend that you may have to write a letter to the Disciplinary Committee because the first attorney is still responsible and he can't just appoint you a new attorney without your written consent. If that attorney won't give you information, it's likely an ethics violation.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 385-8015 or via email at The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


I'm very sorry for what happened to you. Whether you can "start over" depends on the type of debt. In New York state, you cannot sue to recover most debts after six years. Nevertheless, you might want to post more info about the original debt/debtor to see if perhaps there is still a way to recover your money.

IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: Ms. Brown’s response above is not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Ms. Brown’s responses to all questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information based upon the facts stated in the question, and are for educational purposes of the public, not any specific individual. In order to offer legal advice about this or any similar situation, a qualified attorney would likely need to consider many factors not stated in the question or response above. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about this issue, please contact an attorney in your state. Ms. Brown is licensed to practice law in New York, and may be contacted by email at:

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