Somewhere on the Internet, there's an obscure business directory that has me incorrectly listed as the local Little League sports program. For the purposes of this question, assume the entry reads as follows:

Mark Doe
Anytown Little League
[my home address]
[my home phone number]

ie. my name, phone number, and address juxtaposed with a company that I have no connection to.

Once every year or two, I need to deal with a wrong phone number or a piece of mis-directed mail. Now, suppose someone decides to sue the program and gets the contact information off this directory. I'd have in my hands a summons and complaint that describe me as being the defendant in the lawsuit.

But I'm not the local Little League sports program, something even a perfunctory Google search would reveal. What procedure would I use to get rid of the lawsuit, and can I get the plaintiff to pay me to cover the costs of their screw-up?

(Not a duplicate of this question: in my hypothetical scenario, I've got no link whatsoever to either the plaintiff or the intended defendant.)

  • 1
    I would guess you call the lawyer and explain their mistake? Why would they continue?
    – nvoigt
    Jan 24 at 15:35
  • I am confused at to what the actual listing in the directory says: i.e. would the summons name as defendant the "local Little League sports program" or "Mark ___"? If the former, I would ignore any summons, because it isn't you. If the latter, I would probably show up in court just out of curiosity... Jan 24 at 20:13
  • If you are served with a summons to appear in court, then even if it "isn't you", you better show up in court lest the plaintiff get a judgment against actual you, for failing to show up.
    – user6726
    Jan 24 at 20:59
  • @MichaelHall, I've added an anonymized version of the directory entry to the question.
    – Mark
    Jan 24 at 22:32
  • That's helpful. Presumably then the summons would include each of the 4 lines. Because @user6726, if you received a summons naming me, Michael Hall, as defendant, with no other identifying information linked to you, "user6726", would you show up in court prepared to represent me, the defendant? If you choose not to, would the bailiff have recourse against you? How/why might "actual you" be blamed for the actions of "isn't you"? Purely for having received a piece of paper intended for someone else? Jan 24 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


The plaintiff probably has a lawyer, and the lawyer is virtually guaranteed to not offer to pay you anything. You might be able to persuade them that they stand no realistic chance of winning the case, by proving that the alleged wrong was committed by a person acting on behalf of the program, and that you have absolutely no real connection to said program, other than being listed erroneously in a business directory. In the complaint that they file with the court, you can see what reasons they present for naming you as a defendant. They may just say that you are the president of the club. That would be something that they have to prove in court.

Your denial of any connection to the club would not be sufficient, in the face of their concrete evidence that you are the president, so you would need to muster more-powerful evidence to refute their claim. The obvious best way to do that is to provide more persuasive evidence that Bill Jones is the president, and has been for 5 years.

The procedure, if you are sued or have good reason to think that you are about to be sued, is that you hire an attorney who will attempt to persuade the attorney that they made a mistake in naming you as defendant, that you have no connection at all to the club; and if they cannot persuade them to amend the complain, he will defend you (filing an appropriate motion).

In the realm of preemptive actions, you could also contact the directory and get them to voluntarily change the entry. Or you could contact an attorney about getting the directory to involuntarily delist you.

  • 1
    If the mistake is that obvious and mundane, most plaintiffs lawyers would happily get you out of the case. Keeping an obviously incorrect party in too long risks sanctions and even if it simply fails, without a sanction leads to wasted time and money. The key point, of course, is not to just ignore it and get a default judgment entered against you.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 24 at 20:46
  • 1
    Assuming the plaintiff doesn't believe me when I call and explain they sued the wrong person, at what point in the proceedings would the point be raised? Is there some formal way of saying "this entire case is based on a misunderstanding, and if we could get the court to issue a quick ruling on that, it would save everyone a whole lot of time and effort"?
    – Mark
    Jan 24 at 22:45
  • 2
    @Mark: You're describing a motion to dismiss. You (or your lawyer) can file one at any time. Jan 24 at 23:08

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