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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4

    Default Lawsuit Filed in Wrong State - How to Prepare and File Objections

    My question involves court procedures for the state of: Pennsylvania

    I have been served a complaint via certified mail. I have not filed anything as of yet. I live and work in a separate state. I have never been to, resided in, or worked in Pa. nor do I have any contacts there. I am trying to find out how to write/file preliminary objections (pro se) so the case is dismissed due to (lack of) venue and/or jurisdiction. I have a few questions:

    What forms are required to be filed in addition to the objections (cover letter etc.), and how do I compose the objections?
    Would it be better to have preliminary objections challenging the specific allegations in addition to the venue/jurisdiction objections, or simply leave it with the jurisdiction/venue and hope for the best?
    How do I go about filing this, since I am thousands of miles away?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    638

    Default Re: Preparing and Filing Preliminary Objections

    Hi, That really isn't enough information from which to answer. What type of complaint is it? For instance, sometimes when you sign a contract such as for a credit card, you agree "in the fine print" where the jurisdiction will be. Is it possible you agreed to PA? You don't want to put all of your case on the line over jurisdiction only to find out you're wrong.

    We really need to know what you're being sued for, and the type of entity that's suing you.

    Also be aware that in most states you have only 20 or 30 days to answer the complaint or you lose by default.

    As to filing your answer, you could call the clerk of the court and ask. There will be a fee to answer, most likely.

    Edit: We also need to know what type the dispute is and how you know you don't owe the money. What are they asking for? Why don't you owe it?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    CT & IL
    Posts
    5,273

    Default Re: Preparing and Filing Preliminary Objections

    A motion to dismiss is appropriate if you think the court does not have jurisdiction. You can file this now. Include a memorandum of law supporting the motion. Don't argue specifics to the complaint but if a paragraph helps your cause then quote it in the memo.

    You need to file an appearance before you can file anything..call the clerk's office and ask how to do that from 3000 miles away. Its a form you fill out and file/serve with the court and the opposing party.

    You may be able to have the motion to dismiss ruled on just the taking of papers as opposed to having a in-person hearing .. the clerk should be able to inform you of this procedure.

    A letter? No. make it a formal motion & memo -- plenty of examples online showing the general format (headings etc). Read up on the practice rules of the state.

    Until the judge rules on the motion, you need not do anything further. You may wish an attny to file the motion for you so if the court wishes an in-person hearing then he can attend as opposed to you pro se.

    If you need more time you can file your appearance and then file a motion for extension of time to respond to the complaint -- see practice rules.


    Is this a small claims case?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Preparing and Filing Preliminary Objections

    I am being sued for slander/libel/defamation (and others but this is what was checked on the cover sheet). I never signed a contract with this person, however, he did sign one with me (which says that in the event of legal matters they should be taken to the court in the county which I live). I do not know what kind of complaint this is other than a complaint over defamation.

    He says that I made defamatory remarks about him online. The few things I did write, were public record, so being that public records cannot be defamatory, I don't feel like I owe him for this. In addition, he made true defamatory comments about me. He is asking for an amount "in excess" of $45,000

    Perhaps it would help to tell you that this is all internet related..

    I was under the impression PA did preliminary objections and not motions to dismiss. I have located many motions to dismiss to use as examples, however I've not found examples of objections without the judge's ruling on them, so I have been unsure on which parts I should look to for an example. I have spoken with attorneys, and if I hire one to file this, I might as well hire him for the entire thing as the money is roughly the same (which I do not have at this time). This is not small claims unfortunately.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Preparing and Filing Preliminary Objections

    Quote Quoting Awnya
    View Post
    I do not know what kind of complaint this is other than a complaint over defamation.
    You told us that you have been served with the complaint. Read it and tell us what causes of action are included.
    Quote Quoting Awnya
    View Post
    I was under the impression PA did preliminary objections and not motions to dismiss.
    See Pennsylvania Code, Title 231, Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 1028. If the judge agrees that you should prevail based upon your preliminary objection, it will so rule. "If an issue of fact is raised, the court shall consider evidence by depositions or otherwise." If you do not prevail, you would have the opportunity to provide a more substantial objection to jurisdiction and venue in the form of a motion.
    Quote Quoting Awnya
    I have located many motions to dismiss to use as examples, however I've not found examples of objections without the judge's ruling on them, so I have been unsure on which parts I should look to for an example.
    Nobody here can see what you're looking at, so that makes it impossible for us to help clarify. It sounds like you may be looking at the judges' findings and conclusions, as opposed to the motions themselves.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    638

    Default Re: Preparing and Filing Preliminary Objections

    He signed a contract with you specifying jurisdiction for that contract, but this sounds like a different matter than the contract?

    Jurisdiction for internet defamation varies from state to state. It is a mishmash, but most recently courts have been holding that any state in which the statement was published has jurisdiction. I can't be sure about PA so be careful. see http://www.citmedialaw.org/threats/g...r-v-kohlenberg

    I wouldn't put all of my eggs in the jurisdiction basket. I'd also prepare an answer, stating that the plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. I'd make the claim that the plaintiff hasn't shown any evidence that it was actually you and not an imposter who made the statement. This is very hard for the plaintiff to prove. Now he has to get subpoenas for ISP's and prove what your IP address was at the time, and that your IP address made the posting. Every computer including a router in the world has a unique IP address so that the "internet" knows where to send answers to requests you make for a web page, receive your email, etc.

    Once he goes to the time and expense of getting that information (and he may not be able to because your ISP is not operating in his state and his court may not have jurisdiction to subpoena info from your ISP) and he proves the posting came from your home, he still hasn't proven it wasn't another family member. You can really run him in circles over this.

    I hope you haven't admitted you made the postings in a way which can be proven such as an email.

    Two more questions.

    Was the complaint prepared by an attorney? If it's pro se, he won't know how to handle your motion mentioned above. If it was, it's going to cost him so much money to prosecute that he may ask for dismissal when he sees your motion.

    Was the statement you made true and can you prove it? Truth is an absolute defense to defamation.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Preparing and Filing Preliminary Objections

    The one and only thing checked says: slander/libel/defamation. There are no further explanations on the cover sheets. Nothing I can see on the top of the pages either. The complaint gives contact info, then goes into the counts against me.

    This is one of the examples I located that doesn't contain a judge's ruling: http://lipnews.com/Defendants1.html
    I also found a link with rules such as margins, 3" space at the top etc.

    This basically all stems from the contract. One of the counts in the complaint is Tortious Interference with Contract.

    I was thinking the same thing (eggs in a basket) but wanted other opinions first.

    I signed my name to one of the posts, however that was the one that said NOTHING about him at all. The other came from a place where it's pretty obvious who wrote it. I really cannot give a whole lot of details as this could possibly be seen, and cause me more troubles.

    The complaint was prepared by his attorney, who has already told me in so many words, that they have no desire to work anything out. Either I sign what they want (which is basically paperwork saying "you don't need to pay me after all" or they would rather pay the attorney to initiate a lawsuit.

    The statement was, and still is absolutely true, and yes I can prove it, though he already knows this as it is simply public record. Anyone who searches his name can find it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    638

    Default Re: Preparing and Filing Preliminary Objections

    You still aren't giving us enough information. We need to know what the causes of action are or we might miss something.

    If the only complaint against you, when read as a whole, is that you libeled him, and you can prove for a fact that the statement(s) were true, then you have an "affirmative defense." Truth is an absolute defense against libel (written slander.)

    If all of the causes of action (different complaints) are rooted in libel, then I'd skip over everything until I got to "first affirmative defense" and then I'd write something about all causes of action being without merit because your statement(s) were the truth.

    This is more like a response to a complaint, which you would have to butcher to your needs:

    http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/6jd/f.../ans_examp.pdf

    The only thing it lacks, other than your need to completely edit it to meet your situation, and to be sure to put the case number on it, is proof of service. The clerk of the court can tell you how it must be served. Proof of service sounds something like this, assuming mail is OK, and is added to the bottom:

    I hereby certify under oath that I served this response upon the Court and upon the Plaintiff by placing it in the regular mail with proper postage affixed on Date_______________.

    Signed_____-Date_______

    You may have to pay a fee to the court when you send this. Ask the clerk.

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