and which is the WRONG question. It goes something like this: "Adrianos, someone wrote defamatory comments about me on the internet and I want to do something about it. Can I file a lawsuit?" This is the WRONG question.
Anyone can file a lawsuit at anytime, whether it’s defamation, libel, slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, you name it. The courts in Los Angeles (and most other courts in California and elsewhere) are open 5 days a week. The proper question, however, is whether you should file a lawsuit. And the answer to that question depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to:
- do you have a strong claim or claims? Many claims appear strong on the surface (especially to non-lawyers) but are much weaker upon close examination, which is why I reject most cases.
- Is a cross-complaint likely? If the cross-complaint is successful, the defendant may get a judgment against you for damages.
- Is your lawsuit subject to an anti-SLAPP motion? Many individuals and lawyers misapprehend the expansive reach of the almighty anti-SLAPP motion. It has the potential of knocking out your case at an early stage, not to mention the fact you’d have to pay the defendant his attorneys’ fees. This is why you need an experienced anti-SLAPP lawyer to review your complaint before you file it.
- Is the potential recovery substantial enough? Most lawyers will not handle a case which is smaller than $100,000.00 on a contingency basis–it’s just not worth the time and risk for most of us. In that event, would you be willing to spend thousands of dollars to litigate your case?
- Is this merely a "matter of principle" or a "vendetta case?" Many people tell me that they want to sue someone as a "matter of principle." I usually turn down these cases because they involve an emotional cauldron that I’d prefer not to spend 1 to 2 years dealing with.
- Do you have the intestinal fortitude to deal with obnoxious opposing counsel who may relentlessly question you about topics you’d rather not talk about? Are you willing and able to spend a considerable amount of time working with your attorney to prepare the case?
Those are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you decide to file a lawsuit.
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