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Is It Viable to Sue the People Suing Me?


Being a defendant in a civil lawsuit can be frustrating experience. Defendants are often forced to pay out money either through a court order or by settling the case. Losing a lawsuit may also mean a loss of reputation in the community or higher insurance rates. Even if a defendant manages to dismiss a case, they may still need to pay out thousands of dollars to hire an attorney to handle the process. A lawsuit can also mean tedious document collection, paperwork, and meetings.

Many defendants will be tempted to sue the plaintiff in response to a lawsuit. While a counter lawsuit may be a viable tactic in some cases, many cross-claims may also be quite frivolous. Below are some tips to keep in mind when meeting with an attorney to determine whether you can sue a plaintiff who has filed a lawsuit against you:

Filling a Counter LawsuitYou Cannot Sue Someone for Suing You

A defendant cannot sue someone for suing them. Many states bar such claims through a doctrine know as a “litigation privilege.” This means that a person cannot file a lawsuit against another person for making a statement or behaving in a certain manner as part of a court proceeding. Therefore, you cannot sue someone for making a statement against you in a lawsuit.

However, the litigation privilege only applies if the statements or conduct were made as part of a court proceeding. While it is not possible for a defendant to sue another party for suing them, it would be possible for a defendant to sue that person if the defendant had an independent claim. For example, a defendant in a breach of contract case cannot sue a plaintiff for filing the lawsuit in the first place. However, the defendant can sue the same plaintiff if the defendant believes that the plaintiff breached the contract as well.

Laws for Counterclaims Vary By State

The procedure to file a counterclaim may vary by state to state. Some jurisdictions require a counterclaim be filed as part of a response to a lawsuit while others require the counterclaim be an entirely new lawsuit. Many states require that the counter lawsuit be filed with the court’s permission.

Some States Require that the Counterclaims Be Filed in the Same Lawsuit

It will depend on the claims in the lawsuit. A compulsory counterclaim is one in which the lawsuits are so closely related to one another that the counterclaim must be made in the same lawsuit to avoid conflicting results. Failure to raise the claim will bar the defendant from asserting it in a later separate lawsuit. A permissive counterclaim is one involving the same parties but involve separate issues. As such, they can be heard subsequently without any issue.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Civil Law Issue?

A party may sue or be sued under almost any non-criminal theory of law. If you believe you have been wronged financially or otherwise, you should consult with a skilled and knowledgeable civil attorney in order to help you determine whether you have a solid case. If another person or business sues you, it is best to immediately consult with an attorney in order to determine the best course of action. Delaying your response to the lawsuit could have severe consequences for your defense.


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