When a creditor sues you, you should receive two documents--the Summons and Complaint. The Summons tells you what court you were sued in and what you need to do to answer. The Complaint tells you who is suing you, why they are suing you, and for how much. Start by looking at the caption (at the top of the Complaint, it states who the parties are in a lawsuit). Do you recognize the company suing you? Read the
Complaint and see why you are being sued and the amount. Are the facts
stated in the Complaint correct? Start thinking about how you will respond to
the creditor's claims.
If you were not served with papers (you found out about your lawsuit another way)--get them
Sometimes people find out for the first time that they were sued after a
creditor gets a wage garnishment or a bank freeze. If this has happened, the
creditor already has a judgment against you (which means that it has already
won its case). This often happens when you are not properly served with
legal papers. Depending on how you found out about the lawsuit, you should
now have your case number. Go to the court clerk's office and get a copy of
the legal papers in your case. If you were sued in Hennepin County, go to 300 South 6th Street, Public Service Level, 2nd Fl. If you were sued in Ramsey County, call the records office at (651) 266-8237 for instructions.
You will need three documents from the court clerk: Summons, Complaint, and Affidavit of Service. Bring a pocketful of change for the copy machine.
If the creditor does not have a judgment, serve an Answer
In Minnesota, a lawsuit is started by serving it, not by filing it. So if you have just been sued and you haven't answered, your case may not be in the court system yet. If you have it, great. If not, call the opposing law firm to ask for a copy. They should honor this request.
In the Answer, list your defenses--maybe you don't owe the debt, or the amount is incorrect, or you don't know the company that is suing you. If possible, consult an attorney to determine legal defenses. Even if you are not sure, you can still answer. Remember, the creditor must prove its case in court. Just because it says you owe money doesn't mean it's true. Once you have completed your Answer, mail a copy to the lawyer for the other side. Send it certified mail and keep your green certified mail receipt.
If the creditor has a judgment already, but you never went to court, consider "vacating the default"
If the creditor has a judgment already, you may still have a right to answer
the case. For example, if you have not been properly served with papers, you
may reopen the case as long as you can show that you were not properly
served and that you have a defense to the lawsuit. You do this by filing a
motion to vacate the judgment, which is a type of action in court that may reopen a
default judgment. It is best to find an attorney who can help you vacate the default. but if you can't hire an attorney, it may be possible to do it on your own. Good luck.
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