What to do if our customer filed a civil case in a court in another state?
Question Details: We are a small moving company registered in NJ state. We did the interstate move for a customer from NJ to SC 6 month ago. At the destination point in SC, the customer refused to pay off the remaining balance of the order and called to the police. When police arrived, we explained everything, showed the paperwork and they advised the customer to pay off the balance and let us unload his order to his house as we did everything per the signed contract. In the end, the customer refused to sign the delivery acknowledgment form, check inventory and took away all paperwork we had. Now we received the notice that this customer filed a civil case against us in the Magistrate's court in SC saying that we blackmailed him and did not deliver several items, asking judgement for $7500. How should we proceed as the court is in SC where we do not conduct business? Under our contract, all disputes must be filed in NJ.
If the contract states clearly that all disputes must be heard in NJ courts, you can file a motion in the South Carolina court to have the case dismissed due to improper venue, based on the terms of the contract--the motion will essentially ask the court to dismiss in SC "without prejudice" so the suit can be filed in the correct court, as per the contract. Check the court rules: SC rules for this court may require you to file an "answer" to the suit either with the motion or before it, rather than letting you simply file the motion by itself as your response (every state has different court rules; in NJ, you could simply file the motion). You would be well advised to retain an SC attorney to do this for you.