An S corporation responds to a summons in the same way as a regular corporation. A summons informs the corporation that a person or entity has initiated legal action against it in court by filing a complaint. S corporations are typically owned by a small number of shareholders, so it is more likely that a summons issued to an S corporation will name the owners personally in the lawsuit, in addition to naming the corporation. The way the S corporation responds to a summons depends on who is named in the lawsuit and whether it has been filed in state or federal court.
Read the summons carefully. The summons should have the complaint attached to it. Note whether the lawsuit has been filed in state or federal court. This will determine the legal procedure that will ultimately govern the action. The summons will list a date and time that a representative of the corporation must appear in court. It will also include instructions for filing a written response to the complaint.
Hire a lawyer or decide to defend the corporation yourself. If you hire a lawyer, give him the summons. He will prepare the response and appear in court on the corporation's behalf. Alternatively, an authorized representative of the corporation can prepare its defense, such as a manager, officer or director. You must check with your state laws and your corporation's bylaws to be sure as to whether an officer or shareholder can represent the corporation. Collect any business information that will enable you to respond specifically to the factual allegations in the complaint.
Draft an answer to the complaint. The answer must respond to each allegation in the complaint by stating that the S corporation admits, denies or has insufficient knowledge to admit or deny the allegation. The answer may also indicate any counterclaims and any legal defenses that the corporation plans to assert that provide justification for the facts specified in the complaint. For a complaint against an S corporation that also sues one or more shareholders personally, the answer can make a motion to dismiss the individual shareholders from the suit based on the limited liability protections inherent in the corporation entity format.
File the answer with the clerk of the court. The summons will indicate when, where and how to file the answer with the clerk. Each court system has its own civil procedure, so the exact steps for filing the answer will depend on the state where the lawsuit is filed and whether it is filed in state or federal court.
Appear in court to represent the corporation as indicated by the summons. Typically, if you need more time to respond, you can request an extension from the other party. Most civil procedure suggest or require that the other party grant the first request for extension.