Sunday, April 16, 2017

You've been sued ... now what!

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One of my clients contacted me in a panic after receiving several letters from other bankruptcy attorneys informing him he had been sued in civil court for one of his credit card debts. Imagine opening a letter from an attorney and the top line reads something like:


This letter went on to explain a law suit was filed in county court and it was time to act. Of course the attorneys sending the letters were offering their services. Different people have different thoughts about this practice but the letters were right, it was time for my client to act. 

The operative word here is "act" and not "react." In Pennsylvania, people still have time to think and plan after a law suit is filed. As an attorney, I prefer to have more time to plan but the filing of a complaint in county court is not the end of the process... actually it is a beginning.

The Plaintiff (the party bringing the suit) must serve the complaint on the Defendant (debtor being sued). In Pennsylvania, a defendant in a law suit usually has 20 days to answer. If he or she doesn't answer, the Plaintiff must give the Defendant 10 days notice that the Plaintiff intends to ask the court of a judgment if the Debtor fails to answer the complaint. So a debtor in Pennsylvania usually has at least 30 days to consider his or her options.

While waiting until you are sued to consider bankruptcy can limited your options, I suggest it is not the time to panic and jump at the first option offered. I recommend, if a person receives a letter like I describe above, he or she pause, be grateful for the "heads up" and act ... not overreact.  Take a moment to assess the situation and seek legal help. It may be in one of those letters and maybe not. Take a little time to educate yourself and find the help that makes you feel comfortable.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark M. Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

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