My wages are currently being garnished by a former landlord. I was never notified of any court case until my wages were being garnished. They sent all documentation to an address where I lived prior to renting from the landlord who is garnishing me.
You should hire an experienced attorney to possibly vacate the judgment that was entered against you. A review of the court file should clarify the matter. You would need to prove an reasonable excuse for your default (which would be the fact that you were never served with the papers) and a meritorious defense to the action (do you owe the money to the landlord? Did you properly surrender the apartment? etc.) Speak with an attorney.
If the plaintiff did not follow the rules for service of process as prescribed by the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules [NY CPLR], then you should go to court and have the judgment vacated. If you are successful AND the statute of limitations has passed, the landlord may be time barred from initiating another action. You should consult with an attorney.
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You must go to the court which issued the judgment, pull the file, find the affidavit of service and prepare an order to show cause asking the court to remove the judgment for improper service. You should also as for a TRO to stop the garnishment while the case is being decided. See a local attorney who can prepare the papers for you.
Yeah, this is pretty common. When you move without letting your creditors know your current address, rules of civil procedure lets the creditor sue you through publication in the classified section of an obscure local newspaper where you and everyone you know will never see it. Then the creditor waits until the time to appeal has expired before hitting up your pay check on a garnishment. Frankly, our judicial system needs to bring these Court rules into a system that requires at least a minimum effort by the creditor to give you actual notice. Right now, the answer I generally have to give people is "they got you" before trying to settle. More info is available by completing a survey at www.endgarnishment.com . Hope this perspective helps!
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