What to Do if You Receive a Complaint or Subpoena

What to Do if You Receive a Complaint or Subpoena

If your community association is served with a complaint or subpoena, you must promptly forward it to the community association’s legal counsel. As explained in this article, receipt of a complaint or subpoena triggers time sensitive legal obligations that can expose your community association to serious liability.

Indeed, the filing of a complaint is often deemed the start of litigation – in other words, you may have just been sued! Depending on what rules apply to the complaint in question, your community association may only have 20 days to prepare and serve a response or an answer to the complaint. Moreover, if your community association fails to timely serve a response or answer to a complaint, it may have a “default” entered against it in the related court case. A default not only severely limits the ability of the community association to defend itself in court, but it also empowers a court to rule that all well-pled factual allegations have been “admitted” by the community association.

Even if your community association was not sued and only served with a subpoena, you still must act quickly, as service of a subpoena may trigger multiple deadlines and obligations. For example, some subpoenas may not only require your community association to prepare and serve an objection within a few days, but it may also require the community association to produce certain materials or even a representative for examination within a few days. Some subpoenas may even require the community association to designate a corporate representative and prepare them for an examination as to certain topics, wherein their testimony shall be binding on the community association. If your community association fails to timely object or adhere to a subpoena, it may result in waiver of certain objections to the demands of the subpoena. Furthermore, a community association’s failure to timely object tor adhere to a subpoena may result in a court order finding your community association in contempt of court or requiring the community association to pay attorneys’ fees and costs to the party that issued the subpoena.

Ultimately, while complaints and subpoenas come in all shapes and sizes, they all generally require quick and calculated action. Thus, you should always consult your legal counsel with respect to a complaint or subpoena as soon as possible so as to ensure compliance with Florida law and that your community association’s interest are well served.

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