Passionate Advocacy When It Counts ℠

Can they sue me?!

by | Feb 23, 2024 | Business Law, Litigation

This is attorney Hunter Cavell coming to you live from Solon, Ohio. I’m an attorney. I practice out of Solon, Ohio, which is a suburb of Cleveland. I’m a Cleveland trial lawyer. I practice in three pretty specific areas. Real estate litigation, business litigation, and to the side of that formation to keep your company and yourself out of hot water, as well as car accident cases. So, if those are any interest to you, please give me acall, give me a shout. But the one thing that happens, the main question I get from any client, potential or not, is, well, they can’t sue me for that, can they?

And most lawyers will answer that question, saying, it depends. I’m not here to give you an “it depends” answer. You came for the question, I’ll give it to you. The answer is yes. Unequivocally, yes, they can sue you for any reason at all. But the real thing is, with that question, you’re kind of missing the point. The question you shouldn’t be asking is, can they sue me? The question you **should** be asking is: are they going to prevail? And that one takes a little more nuance and a little more thought out the gate for any kind of certainty.

Say someone hurts you, they have to prove four things: they have to prove duty, breach, causation and injury. And as the plaintiff, they have to prove all of those things. You have to just knock one of them away and it’s gone. Now, if somebody sues you and you think it’s bogus, there are ways around that. However, in Ohio, pretty much just stating any kind of allegation, as long as it’s not a lie and can be supported by evidence, is fair game.

Now, there are a few statutes and rules that apply. Specifically, rule eleven applies. When you sign a document, you acknowledge that you’ve read the document, you know what’s in it, and you believe that there’s some truth to it, and that there’s a recovery under the law, or there’s an easy way to extend the law, and that’s what’s called a good faith basis.

Now, if you can prove that somebody filed a lawsuit for a malicious reason to harass you, or someone says, I’m not going to win this lawsuit, but you’re going to have to spend money to defend it. So, “ha ha,” I’m going to file it. You can file at the end of the case after it’s dismissed, something called a motion for sanctions. And what that allows you to do is go to the judge within 30 days of the close of the case and say, this case was brought in bad faith. It was only made to harass me, and I want my attorney fees. And it’s a hard bar to prove. But if you can prove it, you’ve got a good case.

You can also, in Ohio, move to make somebody what’s called a vexatious litigator, which basically says the same thing, that they brought it to harass you. There’s no reason for it. And what that does is it puts that person on a list that’s kept by the Supreme Court of Ohio. It’s called a vexatious litigator list. It’s hard to get on. But once you’re on there, that person can no longer file a lawsuit pro se or in their own name, and they have to seek what’s called leave or get an attorney to file something on their behalf and say, hey, no, this case is legitimate, even though one in the past was not, which, again, very high burden to prove.

So what you need to realize is, yes, you can be sued.

Now, if you own a company and you’re sued, you need to realize in Ohio that you cannot personally defend your company. You have to hire a lawyer. You absolutely have to hire a lawyer to at least file an answer or a motion to dismiss. Now, if you’re a person and you’re personally sued, you don’t have to hire a lawyer, but you shouldn’t go it alone. I’m versed in doing this. Some people get emotional. They don’t know what they’re doing. And there are so many ways to mess up. And if you act on your own behalf, the court holds you to the same standard as someone like me who’s been to law school, passed the bar, and is out doing this for a job. The same reason I go to a doctor for their opinion. I can Google it, but I’m still going to the doctor to make sure if I’m sick or not. You should always go see a lawyer. And if you’re worried about the money, a lot of times lawyers will give free consultations or kind of point you in the right direction. And I’m happy to do that or make the referral for you, but you don’t want to go this alone.

So again, yes, they can sue you. Will they win is the other thing. Yes, you will probably be out some money. You can possibly get it back if and when you prove that they were doing this just to harass you. But again, that’s a very high burden to prove and it would basically have to be just very obvious because in America we decide things in the courts. That’s how it works. And yes, it does take time. Yes, it takes money. Yes, it’s stressful. That’s why you need a lawyer on your side. And if you want to give me a call, my number is 440-940-6441 or email [email protected] or can just visit my website, Check out LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram for helpful business and legal tips and just reach out if you have anything.I’m always here. Give me a call. Thanks for reading and have a good day.