After getting over the initial shock of being served by the Sheriff or other process server with a civil lawsuit in Oregon, you should carefully read your Summons and Complaint and strongly consider consulting with an Oregon attorney immediately. Since your time to respond to the Complaint is subject to strict statutory timelines and other technical requirements, an attorney should review your Summons and Complaint as soon as possible. You can get a low-cost consultation with an Oregon attorney by calling the Oregon State Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service. You can get more information here: https://www.osbar.org/public/ris/
The Summons provides you a general statutory notice regarding your time to answer and defend the lawsuit filed against you. Your time to file a response is generally within 30 days from service on you (or from first publication if served in that manner, which is limited in practice). Please see ORCP 7 for more information: https://oregoncivpro.com/orcp-7-summons/
The Complaint will describe the legal claims and the supporting factual allegations against you. Your response to a Plaintiff’s Complaint is called an Answer. Your Answer should be prepared in accordance with applicable Oregon Uniform Trial Court Rules (UTCRs) regarding its format and filing requirements and with sufficient consideration given regarding any legal or equitable defenses you might have in defense of the Complaint. Again, this is another good reason to have an attorney involved in this process since lawyers are trained to know how to resolve and understand these challenges.
Your Answer is ultimately filed with the Court (which will likely involve electronic filing), along with your applicable filing fee, and properly served on the opposing party which is also procedurally specific. If you don’t file a timely Answer, or decide to ignore the Complaint and toss it in your “circular file”, you will likely lose the lawsuit regardless of its ultimate merits. The Plaintiff will most likely receive what it asked the Court for in its Complaint by applying for a default judgment as provided by ORCP 69 if you fail to timely defend. Please see ORCP 69 for more information: https://oregoncivpro.com/orcp-69-default-orders-and-judgments/
Once a judgment is obtained against you, you will have limited means to attempt a “redo”, and you will be subject to immediate collection actions through wage and bank garnishments. In addition, an Oregon Circuit Court judgment creates an automatic lien on all real property you currently own and acquire post-judgment in Oregon. Forget about selling that home without dealing with this new issue. Your credit will also suffer. Consequently, you should avoid these consequences by acting in prompt and educated manner.
Litigation is complex and stressful. Therefore, get the assistance you need to ensure you are aware of your legal options and risks in your particular legal situation.