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Q: Can I find out if someone has secretely filed a lawsuit against me ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Can I find out if someone has secretely filed a lawsuit against me
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: inquiringmind003-ga
List Price: $35.00
Posted: 11 Jul 2005 05:50 PDT
Expires: 10 Aug 2005 05:50 PDT
Question ID: 542128
I live in New Jersey and work in Manhattan, NY. In these litigious times,
I would like to find out for sure whether or not someone may have
secretely filed a civil lawsuit against me in Manhattan, but kept
it secret by not "serving" the suit on me (yet).  If you know how to
do this, I can email you my name.
  If it turns out to be true, then I would want to know how to
find out the specifics.  Finding out the specifics could perhaps be
worked out between us as an extra generous tip or as a second, separately
paid for question, whatever you prefer.
Subject: Re: Can I find out if someone has secretely filed a lawsuit against me
Answered By: richard-ga on 11 Jul 2005 11:25 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello and thank you for your question.

As the cited website explains, the procedure in New York is that a
lawsuit, often referred to as an ?action,? is typically commenced by
filing a summons and complaint with the applicable office of the
county clerk.  After the action has commenced, a copy of the summons
and complaint must be served on the defendant within 120 days after
the filing date (with a limited exception where the statute of
limitation is four months or less).
Obtaining a Judgment in New York

The New York statute is the CPLR (Civil Practice Law & Rules).  The
table of contents of the CPLR is available online, but I have not
located the text of the statute itself for you to read.

So, you need only be concerned with finding out about possible actions
that have commenced in the past 120 days, since that would be the last
day before you would receive personal service of the summons and

Inside that 120 window, you would need to inquire at the New York
[Manhattan] County Clerk's office at Battery Park to learn if you have
been named in any such filing.
County Clerk Offices
60 Centre Street

"When a case first reaches the County Clerk, the party must purchase
an index number. At that time the Clerk will open a County Clerk's
file and create a color-coded file jacket bearing the index number
assigned to the case. Papers subsequently presented for filing will be
filed in this jacket. Index numbers take the form of six digits
followed by a slash and the four digits of the year the case began,
e.g., 340705/1996."

"A filing made in the routine way will also be listed in the County
Clerk?s minutes and the listing will appear in Datacase and Court

There is also an online system that you should first try accessing.  I
cannot vouch for how quickly it is brought up-to-date but unless you
need instant information you may find it a lot more convenient than
making periodic visits to Centre Street.
Find All New York State Civil Supreme Court Pending Cases

Search terms used:
cplr text
"60 centre"  new york county clerk

Thanks again for letting us help.

Google Answers Researcher
inquiringmind003-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Great work. Thank you very much.  Couldn't ask for a better answer.

Subject: Re: Can I find out if someone has secretely filed a lawsuit against me
From: clint34-ga on 11 Jul 2005 07:20 PDT
You can not "secretly" be party to a lawsuit.  Pick up the phone, call
the Clerk of the Court, in which burrough or jurisdiction you think
the case may be, and ask them if you are party to a lawsuit.  That is
how simple it is.
Subject: Re: Can I find out if someone has secretely filed a lawsuit against me
From: tmi9-ga on 07 Aug 2005 20:15 PDT
   I found this article to be extremely helpful. I did find some info
that might help someone in addition to what was posted here. While it
is true in county courts on up that the starting of a lawsuit is by
filing with the court clerk, paying the fee and getting an index
number, in city court the rules are different?at least in NY State.
Commencement of a lawsuit is by serving, not filing. If you live away
from the city you are being sued in i.e. out of the county or out of
the state,  the person (or his representative) who is suing you  has
to serve you. The law allows for several ways to do this. One is to
?nail and mail?. They nail a copy of the Summons and Complaint (the
papers that say they are suing you , why they are suing you and what
they want) , to the door of your last known residence or place of
business and also mail a copy (within 20 days of each other) to your
last know mailing address. If you don?t get it because you are not
there anymore it doesn?t matter. They will give you 30 days to respond
and if they do not hear from you (rules apply on how to respond) they
will ask for a default judgment against you.  That means you have to
pay whatever they asked for in the Summons and Complaint. The way you
find out about it is when they find you to collect on the judgment
(amazing they don?t put forth as much effort to find you to serve you
as they do to collect, isn?t it?). The good news is you have one year
to fight a default judgment if you were not personally served and were
out of the county or state (see the CPLR). Check out these sites to
verify what I am saying. It took me hours and many many phone calls to
find this info. I hope it saves someone else the trouble!
This is a link to the Uniform City Court Act, specifically to the part
about the Summons and Complaint and how it must be served as well as
how a law suit is started in the city courts.
This link is to the NY Civil Practice Laws and Rules.
Whatever isn?t superceded by the Uniform City Court Act applies in city courts. 

Don?t get confused when reading through these?easy to do?the CPLR
(Civil Practice Laws and Rules) is for all courts in NY. The UCCA
(Uniform City Court Act) supersedes the CPLR in city court only in the
areas it specifies.

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