I Want to Take Someone to Court in Pennsylvania, but I Live in a Different State. Can This Be Done?

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Where you take someone to court depends on a few things, but not on where you live. There are several different factors that determine where you can take a person to court, including where that person lives, where the event or dispute about which you are suing took place, and whether that person was acting on behalf of a company. As long as your case meets one of these criteria, then yes, you can sue the person in Pennsylvania.


If you are suing a person who has hurt or wronged you and you sue them in small claims or state court, then you can take them to court in the state in which they live or in the state in which they wronged or hurt you. These courts only handle local cases. So if your defendant lives in Pennsylvania, you can sue him or her there.


If they committed the act about which you are suing them or your dispute with them arose in Pennsylvania, you can sue them there. If this person does not live in Pennsylvania and the event or dispute over which you are suing did not happen in Pennsylvania, then you cannot sue them there. The location of the lawsuit must be related to the defendant who wronged you or the location of the event where you were wronged.


When you sue someone, the court will serve that person with a summons informing him or her of your complaint and that they are being sued. The person must be served with the papers in the state in which they are being sued. So even if you are able to sue someone in Pennsylvania, if they are never within state limits to receive the summons, your case cannot proceed. You would need to sue them in their home state. Exceptions would be if your lawsuit involved a motor vehicle incident or an out of state landlord who owns property in the state. Then they can be served out of state.


If the person you wish to sue lives in Pennsylvania, your first step would be to file a complaint in that person’s home county. Some counties may allow you to send paperwork through the mail, but at some point you will need to travel to the site of your lawsuit. Take travel time and expense into consideration as you pursue your suit, and keep your receipts. Be sure to include any applicable court costs in your suit, such as fees for serving the summons and filing the complaint.


If this person was acting on behalf of a company and your lawsuit is against the company, then there is a slightly different set of rules. If the company is licensed to do business in Pennsylvania and has a presence in that state — a store, an office, a warehouse, or any other facility — then you can sue that company in Pennsylvania.


Even if the person’s headquarters is in another state, as long as you can provide a valid in-state address for the court to serve the defendant, you can sue them in that state. But if the company is completely based in another state and has no presence in Pennsylvania, then you need to sue them where they are located.

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