I've been served with a summons/complaint in a breach of contract - commercial tenant/landlord case in the Sacramento superior court. I need more time to respond. The court refuses to tell me which form to fill out (they have more than one) to file to get an extension. If somebody could just tell me which form to file and maybe a link to that form, I would greatly appreciate it. I must respond in 2 days. I am the defendant. I was unable to pay my commercial office lease and I'm being sued for $151,000. Thank you.
4 Answers from Attorneys
The other side may grant you an extension, but it is dangerous to speak to the other attorney unrepresented. Anything you say other than "may I have an extension, thank you" may have serious consequences and may cause you to lose the case, so communicating with the other attorney unrepresented is not advised. You need an attorney immediately. If you retain me by tomorrow, I can negotiate an extension for you, and may assess your case as well. Do not rely on me unless and until we discuss details, as I do not know yet whether I would take your case or not. You need to act immediately, as you will default and lose your rights if you do not respond properly and in time.
Daniel Bakondi, Esq.
The Law Office of Daniel Bakondi, APLC
870 Market Street, Suite 1161
San Francisco CA 94102
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The other side probably has a lawyer, and the lawyer will probably agree to give you more time if you ask for it. Courts generally frown on lawyers who refuse such requests and then promptly seek a default.
If the other side obtains a default, or even a default judgment, that is not necessarily the end of the case. You can bring a motion to set them aside, but you will have to show reasonable diligence. That should include asking for more time while you still can. Besides, a motion for relief is not an easy thing for a layperson to prepare, and it will cost money to have a lawyer do it for you. It would be better to get the other side to give you more time.
Just be sure not to discuss any other aspect of the case, or your finances, when you speak with the lawyer.
And then get a lawyer as soon as you can. With so much money at stake, you don't want to risk representing yourself.
I concur with Mssrs. Bakondi and Hoffman. But here is one more thing to worry about: my guess is that your lease agreement contains an attorney fees clause. That means that the losing party will be ordered to pay a portion (and perhaps all) of the winning party's attorneys fees. So what is at stake here might be significantly more than the $151,000 pled in the complaint. You need an extension of time (ask via telephone and follow up in writing; it will look bad to the court if the opposing attorney says no) and you need a lawyer asap
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I just write to answer your direct question about the form: there is no such form. It requires a motion to the court, which is a custom drafted set of documents followed by a hearing on the motion. The advice about informally requesting an extension is quite correct. It is standard practice to grant such requests, and the courts look very badly on not granting limited extensions. Most court rules limit the extensions that may be informally granted to 15 days, however.