The Short Answer
When a Second Lawsuit is Allowed
Creditors are prohibited from getting “two bites at the apple” and dragging you to court repeatedly over the same debt. But in certain circumstances, a creditor may file a second lawsuit:
- If the first case was dismissed – If the first case was dismissed for procedural reasons or other issues not related to the facts, the creditor can refile.
- If the debt was not fully paid – If you only paid part of the judgment, the creditor can sue for the unpaid portion.
- If you defaulted after settlement – If you settled but then defaulted on the settlement terms, a new suit can be filed.
- If the first judgment is vacated – If grounds exist to overturn the first judgment, it can be vacated (erased) allowing a second suit.
Strategies if Facing a Second Lawsuit
If you’re sued again on the same debt, don’t panic. Consider these steps:
- Check for violation first – Review the court records and ensure it’s actually the same debt. If it’s barred by res judicata, move to dismiss.
- Try to settle – If a true second lawsuit, attempt to negotiate a settlement rather than undergo prolonged litigation.
- Assert res judicata defense – If settlement fails, submit the res judicata argument to the court to dismiss the improper suit.
- Get help – Consulting a lawyer can be wise to ensure the previous judgment is used properly in your defense.
While you generally can rest easy knowing you can’t be sued twice for the same debt, it’s important to be aware of the intricacies of the law. With the right help and an understanding of your rights, you can properly address any perceived duplicate lawsuits.