Tag Archives: LITIGATION

I was served with a Praecipe for Writ of Summons

Q: We were served with a Praecipe for Writ of Summons. It says we have 20 days to respond. What happens if we don’t? Should we contact the Plaintiff’s attorney to see what they are claiming and seeking, or wait to see if they actually file a lawsuit before engaging with them? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: A civil writ in PA is generally used to toll (pause) a statute of limitations to give a plaintiff additional time to prepare and file a complaint with in the designated statute time. For example, if A wants to sue B, and the statute requires the complaint to be filed by 2/1/19, A can file a writ by 2/1/19 and get an extra 20 days (until 2/21/19) to actually file his complaint. Normally, we see this when plaintiffs decide to sue at the last minute for whatever reason. I have also, unfortunately, seen attorneys do this to harass and annoy a party. An attorney did this to my client by filing a civil writ just before trial in Orphan’s Court. I filed a Praecipe for Rule to File a Complaint, which required the attorney to file a Complaint in 20 days. Of course, he did not file a complaint in 20 days as he did not really have a cause of action and only did this to harass and intimidate my client. There are not many attorneys that misuse the rules in such a manner but there are few out there. I would take your papers to an attorney as there is a possibility you may be sued.

Where can I get a sample copy of a complaint?

Q: I filed a notice of appeal because I was not happy with the decision of lower court. I need to file a complaint. I am suing a contractor for shoddy work. Where can I get a good copy of a civil complaint against a contractor? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Just google “form civil complaint against contractor” and you will probably find one. There are also form provider services on the internet which will charge a fee for such form complaints. You can go to the Allegheny County Law Library on Grant Street and look up Civil Actions in such reference books as PA Standard Practice. The librarian can assist you. You can also go to the Department of Court Records and look at the civil dockets to see if you come across suits involving various Pittsburgh contractors and service providers. You can also hire an attorney which you probably should have done in the first place.

How can you sue for harassment and adult Cyberbullying?

Q: I’m suing a woman for harassment, bullying, Cyberbullying. But, her attorney keeps filing preliminary objections saying these are not recognized as legal claims. Please help, my suit may be dismissed. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: The outcome of your case is not likely to be favorable if you do this on your own. Do you perform minor surgery on yourself? You should review this with an attorney to see if you do have a claim.

Can I object to interrogatory question as irrelevant or I have no information?

Q: I fully answered interrogatories. The defendant went to a judge and told them they wanted more information to harass me. I don’t have more information to give.  Some questions were irrelevant to the case and were excessive and abusive. The judge told me to put more information into my answers. I don’t have any more information. Can I state that? Some of the questions have NOTHING to do with the landlord tenants issues in the case. Can I still make an objection to the fact that the question isn’t relevant and creates a security issue with my job? Also, Can I server written depositions on witnesses through mail as written interrogatories? The rules say you can send written questions without notice. Do I just send them to the witness and state they have 30 days to answer? (Washington, PA)

A: You have the right to not answer a question posed through interrogatories if you have a legal basis not to. I suggest you consult with the Discovery section of the PA Rules of Civil Procedure so that you can formulate reasons to object that are legally acceptable. If you do not, you may be back in court on a contempt of court motion. As far as your objection that your answer would give rise to a security issue with your job, I suggest that you look at the rules regarding a motion for protective order. In regard to your notice of deposition, you can depose a party, or a witness, but again you must comply with the Rules of Procedure. You cannot send something called “written depositions” on parties in which you ask them to answer questions. I feel you could greatly benefit from having a lawyer.

Can I represent myself in Allegheny County Arbitration?

Q: Is it recommended that I have a lawyer when going to an Allegheny County arbitration hearing? This hearing is for an appeal to a small claims court ruling.

A: It is highly recommended if you can afford it. It is called Arbitration and has a jurisdictional limit of claims 50K and lower and your case is heard by a panel of three attorneys instead of a judge or formal. Although it appears somewhat less formal than a judge or jury setting, the rules of civil procedure and evidence still apply. The person who knows these rules has the upper hand which generally means those who are represented will do better. This is especially true if the other side has an attorney. If that is the case, the other attorney can limit your testimony with objections based on the rules of evidence, such as foundation, hearsay, lack of discovery notice, etc. If the other side has no attorney, some arbitration panels will help you and the other litigant sort out your problem, and try to do justice, although don’t take that for granted. Even if the Arbitration Board is that gracious, you still may lose your case based on your lack of knowledge of the rules of procedure and rules of evidence.