KYLE PERSAUD — BARTLESVILLE, OKLAHOMA LAWYER

Home » Civil Law — Oklahoma

Civil Law — Oklahoma

 
I’ve just been sued. What should I do?
I want to sue someone, but I can’t find them. Can I still sue?
What is mediation?
My apartment is unlivable. Can I sue my landlord?
I am a landlord, and I have a tenant who won’t pay. What can I do?

I’ve just been sued. What should I do?
You usually have 20 days, after being served with the summons, to file a response in court. (Read the summons — the summons will tell you how many days you have to file a response in court. If you are sued in small claims court, you don’t have to file an answer — you only need to appear in court on the date given in the summons.) If you do not file a response in court within the deadline given in the summons, the plaintiff can ask the judge to grant a default judgment against you, and you lose the case by default.

You can also file an “Entry of Appearance and Reservation of time” where you ask the court to give you more time to file a response. If your request is reasonable (for example, you ask for 20 more days) your request may be honored.

If your deadline for responding is already expired, and the plaintiff has not asked for a default judgment against you, you may still file a response. At this point, you may also ask the judge (or the opposing party) to allow you to file your answer out of time.

If you’ve already passed the deadline, and the court has granted the other party a default judgment against you, then you may ask the judge to overturn the default judgment. If the judge grants your motion, the case proceeds.

If you want to countersue the plaintiff, you may file a counterclaim.

When you file your answer, you must either admit or deny each accusation in the petition. If there is any accusation that you don’t deny, that accusation will be deemed admitted.

At any time before or during the lawsuit, you may contact the plaintiff and attempt to agree to a settlement or payment plan. You can also agree to a settlement or payment plan even if the court has already granted a judgment against you. It would be wise at this point to remember the words of Jesus: “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:25-26)

If the court grants a judgment against you and you do not pay, you can be ordered to appear at an asset hearing. The plaintiff can obtain possession of certain items of your personal property, and can also garnish your wages — this means that your employer will have to pay a portion of your wages to the plaintiff.

top

I want to sue someone, but I can’t find them. Can I still sue?
Yes. If all efforts to locate the person have failed, you may ask the judge to give you permission to serve the defendant by publication. If the judge allows this, then you may publish notice of the lawsuit, for one day a week for three consecutive weeks, in a newspaper in the county in which the suit is filed. If the defendant does not respond within 41 days after the first publication, then you can be granted a default judgment, and you win the case by default. (If you’re asking for money or property, collection may be difficult — unless you can locate the defendant’s property or bank account.) Also, if the defendant can prove that he did not actually receive notice of the case, then the defendant may ask the court to overturn the default judgment anytime within three years of the judgment.

top

What is mediation?
Mediation is the process where you, and the opposing party, meet together before a neutral person called a mediator. The mediator will attempt to bring the parties together in an agreement. (Sometimes, if the case is particularly contentious, the parties will be in separate rooms.) In many types of mediation, the mediator has no authority to render any decision – he is not like a judge. So, a decision can only be reached if both parties agree to it. (This means that, in mediation, you will not walk away with a result to which you did not agree.)

Sometimes, courts will order mediation before the case can be set for trial. Or, you and the other party can agree to mediate without a court order. If an agreement is reached in mediation, then a trial will not be necessary, since all of the issues will have been resolved. Often, mediation is a much less expensive option than a trial. Some mediators charge for their services; others offer their services free.

top

My apartment is unlivable. Can I sue my landlord?
Yes. In most lease agreements, there is an “implied warranty of habitability.” Even if this warranty is not mentioned in the lease agreement, Oklahoma law holds that the “implied warranty of habitability” still exists. If your apartment is uninhabitable, your landlord may have breached the contract against you, and you may sue for breach of contract.

top

I am a landlord, and I have a tenant who won’t pay. What can I do?

You may file a forcible entry and detainer action. You would file it with the court clerk. After the tenant is served with the summons, you and the tenant will appear before a judge (usually within ten days after you file the action.) If the judge rules in your favor, the judge will grant you a writ of execution. This means that a sheriff will be able to come onto the land and force the tenant to be removed from the property. You may also be able to recover the back rent that the tenant owes you.

top

NOTE: The information provided on this website is not intended to be, and does not constitute, the giving of legal advice. The information provided here is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for individual reliance on privately retained legal counsel. Information provided on this site may not constitute the most current or complete information with respect to legal topics or developments. Mr. Persaud expressly disclaims all liability based on any information contained on this site.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: