MN-summons for debt collect-lacked state seal/file#/was not filed with court. Served by officer. Can they do that?
5 attorney answers
The rule that governs the commencement of an action is Rule 3.01 Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that a civil action is commenced when 1) a Summons is SERVED on the Defendant, 2) the date Defendant Acknowledges Service by mail, or 3) the date the Summons is delivered to the sheriff in the county where you reside, but only if the Sheriff actually serves you within 60 days thereafter. This is very different from the rules most everywhere else. As far as I am aware there are only 2 other states where a lawsuit can be commenced and litigated for an unlimited amount of time without it ever being filed with the Court. A few other states allow for Service first, but require the Summons and Complaint be filed within a certain time after service is completed.
This so-called pocket service does lead to some confusion. People ignore a Summons, forget about it, and then are surprised when the collection attorney takes judgment by default months or even years later.
You probably do have good defenses that you don't know about. even if you can't win the suit, having an attorney on your side will usually save you more than it costs you.
Look for an attorney who practices in the consumer law area. the collection firms are highly specialized and you'd do well to have an attorney who has defended a lot of collection suits.
Minnesota permits a legal action to be commenced upon service of the summons and complaint. This is called pocket filing, and is different from the rule in almost all other states and the federal courts, where a lawsuit begins with filing of the summons and complaint with the court. Many lawsuits in Minnesota, to avoid filing fees initially, are properly commenced without first filing anything with the court or obtaining a court file number.
You don't need to file your answer with the court. If you look at the summons, you'll find the information about who to send your answer to. You should respond to each of the factual allegation in the complaint and incorporate any affirmative defenses into your answer. If you are running short of time, call the person to whom the answer must be served and request an extension of time. If granted, confirm the extension in writing.
If there is a reason why you would want the matter filed with the court, you can do that. You would need to pay your filing fee (up to $322, depending upon the county), but you can get the matter assigned a case number and a judge if you wish to get the matter on track toward a motion or trial immediately.
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Talk to a Minnesota lawyer. This is a matter of state procedure.
Mr. Goldstein is a Virginia-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Mitchell Goldstein or the Goldstein Law Group does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege until otherwise advised.
In Minnesota, attorneys can "pocket serve" a summons and complaint without first filing it with the court. This is an extremely common and legitimate tactic that debt collection attorneys engage in. Do not ignore this summons and complaint. Answer it- either figure out how to properly respond to it or hire an attorney who knows what to do. Do this and do it today.
You don't need to file your answer, only serve it (generally U.S. mail) on the plaintiff.
The above is not intended as legal advice for your specific situation or intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Talk to a lawyer for advice tailored to your specific needs.
The summons is only a notice that a case has been filed & it is usually issued by the court. A copy of the summons is delivered to you with a complaint, which is filed with the court.
In my community, the officer must complete the back of the summons swearing how & where it was delivered. Only then does it get filed.
But each community handles these things differently.
Hope this perspective helps!