If I sell commercial equipment to companies all over the US, can they force me to travel to their state to defend myself or would they have to sue me in my state?

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If I sell commercial equipment to companies all over the US, can they force me to travel to their state to defend myself or would they have to sue me in my state?

I sold a commercial food mixer to a company half way across the country. They paid a 50% deposit at time of order, then when the equipment was built they paid the balance and we shipped it to there location 1000 miles away. They now claim the equipment doesn’t work and they are going to sue us. While we cant go half way across the country to service it for them, we have offered to repair the equipment if they will send it back to us with us paying the shipping costs.

Asked on December 6, 2012 under Business Law, Ohio

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the company files a lawsuit against you, the company is the plaintiff and you are the defendant.

A lawsuit can be filed in the state where the plaintiff resides or in the state where the defendant resides or in the state where the claim arose.

For convenience purposes, the company will most likely file the lawsuit in its state.  You may not need to be physically present in that state to defend yourself in the lawsuit.  You can file documents with the court by mail or possibly electronically if the court allows electronic filing.

As for any court appearance, you may be able to make a telephone appearance instead of being physically present in the courtroom.  It is up to the discretion of the judge whether or not to allow a telephone appearance.  If the court allows telephone appearances, you will need to file a timely request for a telephone appearance before a hearing.  If  you miss the filing deadline to request a telephone appearance and/or don't file the appropriate documents, your request for a telephone appearance will be denied.


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