Minnesota’s Strange Start to Lawsuits

Minnesota has rules regarding starting a lawsuit that are a bit different than other states and may not be what you assume is normal. These rules have been given the quaint name of “pocket service.” Pocket service is the process for beginning a civil case in Minnesota. It involves serving on the opposing party a summons and complaint. What it doesn’t involve is filing anything with any court. This can and often does lead to confusion not just for out of state defendants but lifelong Minnesotans as well.

The reasoning for pocket filing is to encourage people to settle disputes privately. Which is a generally good thing. The problem is, someone who receives these strange documents might assume that because they are not filed in court, they don’t have do do anything. Big Mistake. Once you have been served, the clock is ticking. If you don’t reply in time, the plaintiff can go to court and file for a default judgment. That means they can get everything they asked for. Even if the lawsuit was a loser. Even if they don’t have evidence. You don’t answer, you lose automatically.

Moral of the story: Answer the Complaint. If you’re not sure how, contact an attorney.