So you’re getting sued for a credit card debt or some such consumer debt. The process server, a big ugly guy with an obnoxious grin that you want to beat into submission just served with you a summons and complaint. Should you worry? Maybe. Maybe not. Here are a few tips for handling the legal action and your controlling your sanity:
1. Don’t ignore it. In Michigan you have 21 days from the date that you were served with the complaint to file an answer with the court. If you don’t do that, you will be defaulted and a judgment will enter against you. The lawyer who filed the complaint is hoping, praying and do some other possibly unmentionable acts in the desire that you default. Why? Because if you follow these other tips, you can actually make his life more difficult than he is making yours.
Filing an answer is pretty easy. Copy the same caption information at the top as you see on the complaint. Then, you have to admit or deny each allegation in the complaint. If you are unsure of something, tell the court that you don’t know whether that allegation is true or not.
2. You may or may not get a pretrial notice. If the court just schedule the case for a trial, call the judge’s clerk and give her the case number. Tell her that you would like a pretrial date because you want discovery on this case. Discovery is where you get to ask the Plaintiff’s attorney about what facts and documents and witnesses he or she has to support his or her case. this where things start to get dicey for the Plaintiff’s attorney.
3. At the pretrial, tell the judge that you want discovery in this case. Then, when you get home, write a letter to the Plaintiff’s attorney and ask for all documents that he or she has on the file. Ask for the names and addresses of the witnesses that the attorney will call at trial. If the attorney is representing a debt buyer, he will realize that his case is slowly going south. You see, debt buyers frequently get the names, addresses and social security numbers of people that owe money. They rarely, if ever, get the back up documentation. This puts you in the drivers’ seat.
4. Make sure the Plaintiff’s attorney gets you the documents and answers by the 28th day after you send your discovery request. If you don’t get the documentation and answers to your discovery requests, call the opposing counsel and ask him nicely when he will provide these items to you. Be sure to make a record of this request so at trial, you can tell the judge that the Plaintiff’s attorney was asked to provide these things and has failed to do so.
By following these tips, you can usually get a sizeable reduction in the debt and/or a comfortable payment plan.
If you have been harassed or bullied by a debt collector, or if your credit report is inaccurate and the credit reporting agency will not fix it, email Attorney Gary Nitzkin or call toll free (888) 293-2882. For more information about our firm, visit our website, Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers. We have a lot of good information including short “how to” videos that you will find useful.