It is an experience that is all too common. A new client sits in our conference room with fear on their face. The emotions range from sadness to frustration to red hot anger. They have been served with lawsuit or TPO petition and from the very first paragraph, they are confronted with allegations that are flat out lies. Now, to be honest, most lawsuits involve two or more parties who have a difference of opinion about the law or facts surrounding a situation. This is not what we’re referring to. We’re talking about blatant, bald-faced lies.
If you are served with a legal complaint or lawsuit that has false allegations you should immediately do the following to protect yourself and your reputation.
First, Consult a lawyer. In Georgia, complaints and petitions have a response deadline. As soon as you are served with your complaint, consult a trial lawyer to assist you with creating a case strategy. Some of the lies may have no legal consequences, but others need to be addressed in a specific way to maximize your chance of winning your case.
Second, Compile contradictory evidence. A Judge or jury does not know on the face of the document who is lying and who is telling the truth. When you are preparing to defend a bogus complaint, the easiest way to help your lawyer is to immediately gather documents, photos, videos, and records that contradict the false claims in the complaint. Your lawyer will know how to get that evidence before the Judge.
Third, Be patient. Sometimes it takes getting all the way to the courthouse before you are fully vindicated. The other side (and their lawyers) may not believe that they are being untruthful. Sometimes people dig their heels in and do not want to admit that they have lied, so instead, they keep the case moving. Often, the case is dismissed right before the trial starts. Or other times, the lies are exposed during your trial. Pack your patience. Justice is not always swift.
An experienced trial firm can help you fight baseless claims against liars and often, the offending party is sanctioned by the court and required to pay the attorney fees for the other side. If you are facing a “Pinocchio” on the other side, DO NOT risk fighting them on your own. Your reputation and livelihood are worth too much.