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I received a letter form an attorney, resembling this template.

(Header of that template for posterity):

        SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA
               COUNTY OF BLAH


    PLAINTIFF'S NAME  ) Case No.:  ####
    Plaintiff(s)      )
        vs.           ) WRITTEN INTERROGATORIES 
    DEFENDANT'S NAME  ) TO RESPONDING PARTY
        Defendant(s)  ) SET 1
______________________) 

No clerk signature, no judge signature, only signatures I see are the attorney's and the signature of someone, who I assume is from his office, on a "proof of service by mail."

The questions are requesting a lot of personal information including driver's license #, social security #, bank account #, savings account #, employer information, etc.

For background information: I had a bad split with my previous employer who is being petty. Made the man millions of dollars and he can't let $5,000 go. A small claims verdict was entered in his favor in 2010.

What I am trying to determine is: Am I required to respond to this?

  • Based on what you're describing you should have been previously served with a notice that you are being sued in that superior court with the listed case number. Is that correct? – feetwet Oct 3 '15 at 21:54
  • I don't recall if it was superior court or not, but was served in 2010 for a small claims case for $5000. As I was living 800 miles away (worked at home), was recently unemployed, separated from my ex, and lost my house, I was unable to appear. That being the case a summary judgement was entered in favor of the former employer. – Wranorn Oct 3 '15 at 21:59
  • I voted to close because this question requests legal advice on a specific matter. According to this link, paragraph 3: Please don't ask questions seeking legal advice on a specific matter. These are off-topic for Law Stack Exchange." @feetwet – Alexanne Senger Oct 4 '15 at 0:04
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    @Mowzer -- I agree a reasonable argument can be made for that, and I won't keep it from closing if it gets the votes. However check my answer: I essentially took this as a, "What the heck is this?" question, and answered with, "It probably means you're being sued, in which case you need to get a lawyer, but here's one way to confirm that first." These days I wouldn't put it past someone to use this as a phishing pretext. – feetwet Oct 4 '15 at 0:51
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If what you show is correct and above-board then you are being sued in superior court. However it sounds unlikely that the plaintiff could have served you with notice of such a lawsuit without you realizing it, so if I were you I would first call the court to see if they do in fact have a case with the docket number listed. Then ask:

  • When and who served the original notice in the case (because if you really didn't get it then whoever said you did majorly screwed up and is probably in trouble)
  • Who the plaintiff's counsel is

If the letter was from a real lawyer on the California Bar, and that case really is open in the superior court with you as a defendant, then you really are being sued, and you should either get a lawyer or negotiate a settlement, because if you don't answer and defend then you're just going to have more judgments against you.

If any of the above does not check out then whoever sent that letter is in big trouble if you report it to the DA, postal inspector, and (if they are a real lawyer) the Bar.

| improve this answer | |
  • The plaintiff did sue the poster and he/she does know about it. "A small claims verdict was entered in his favor in 2010." I would guess that this document is an attempt to learn about the defendant's assets, so that the plaintiff can try to seize them to collect on the judgment. But this case is so specific that I think the poster needs actual legal advice. I have flagged the question for closure. – Nate Eldredge Oct 3 '15 at 23:35
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    @NateEldredge Superior court is a significant step up from small claims court. Unless in CA you can continue a case from small claims in a trial court, and unless the docket number is the same, then I assume it would be a new action (even if likely brought pursuant to the small claims judgement). I'm not a lawyer, but I would expect to be served notice of the new action before receiving an IROG. – feetwet Oct 3 '15 at 23:55
  • @both thanks you, that's exactly what was bothering me. The interrogatory is typically used as a discovery tool prior to going to court. And aside from the small claims court, and divorce papers, have never been served with summons to appear to subpoena not would require me to respond. Thank you feetwet, I'll see if I can get a hold of someone at the clerks office to shed some light on this. – Wranorn Oct 4 '15 at 2:02
  • I just saw these comments. It could be that they judgment entered, the defendant never paid, and now they've moved the case for a disclosure hearing on assets. Very common. A disclosure hearing is the one hearing they will actually send a sheriff to place you in custody and bring you to the hearing. You get to leave afterward, but you don't get to not go. And if that is what's happening, if you don't answer now, you'll have to in open court. – gracey209 Oct 12 '15 at 7:24
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Yes. You need to answer; they are normal interrogatories. They don't require anything except an attorney's signature (or the pro se party's signature) as well as the notice that tells you how long you have to respond. Look at the rule they are under (it will be in the Rules of Civil Procedure around 33). You can object to preserve objections for trial, but you still need to answer. Look at model objections and have them all written out on a separate document you can cut and paste from. Object in bold before your answer. If you don't object now you can't later. If you do, and you win, the info you give them cannot be used. Also, count the number of interrogatories (not including subparts). The rule will have a maximum they can ask. It is common for them to go over. Stop answering if they get to the limit and make them ask a judge for more. It is common that the most important ones will come last and if you win, you won't have to disclose.

The objection you are referring to states "this interrogatory is overly broad and unduly burdensome, and is not likely to lead to relevant information."

That said, you still have to answer unless you can't get the information. You have to understand: the questions are meant to are invasive. They are a fishing expedition to try to get information to use against you. What you have cited are standard questions and are not invasive by the court's standards.

You do not get to object on relevance or privacy concerns. They clearly want to find out where all your assets are or may be. Leaving anything out or lying is tantamount to perjury. Your answers must be notarized.

You really need a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, look for law schools with legal aid clinics, or legal aid in your area. Call your local bar association for information. Good luck.

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  • Is this to suggest that the interrogation could be legally started prior to receiving the summons of a new action / to appear, and has to be replied to even in such circumstance? – cnst Oct 12 '15 at 6:44
  • Some new action must first be filed. It could be the the original action, or any number of modification requests. But they need to file first to send IROGS . If an attorney sent you these, you have been served, even if you don't know it. When I say you, it could be myriad people at your home or work who took the papers from someone at the door. A kid, a receptionist. Call the clerk, ask for the docket number and a copy of the summons and complaint. They'll have been filed. If you live in a service by Certified mail state, failure to accept is service! If you did that, the rejection is filed. – gracey209 Oct 12 '15 at 7:09
  • If you want to fight adequate service, you can, but it won't matter even if you win, unless the statute of limitations has passed. They will just re-serve you. And if you won't just accept it, they will make sure it's at the worst time and place. You could just call the lawyer on the interrogatory and tell He/she you weren't served properly. You'll be given a copy and a form accepting service, and if you've defaulted, they'll just extend you time to file am answer since that's all the court will do. Deal with it right away though, you could've defaulted and not even know it. – gracey209 Oct 12 '15 at 7:23

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