Once the Plaintiff starts suit service will be attempted. Service can be accomplished in several manners. The most common way is by hand delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to you. Service is complete when the papers are offered to you. If you do not accept them they can be left there for you.
What should I do after I am Served?
The first thing to do is to write down the date and time of service for your own records.
Second, you should record the date you must respond to the paperwork by filing responsive pleadings or a motion allowed under law. If you were served in person in Michigan you must answer or take such other action as is permitted by law within 21 days. The time to do so is 28 days if you are served by mail or out of state.
Plaintiff may be able to enter a default and or a default judgment against you if you do not comply with these requirements.
Third, you should have the paperwork reviewed by an experienced attorney who regularly handles the defense of these lawsuits. Many collection attorneys do most of their collection work for banks, collection agencies and other large creditors and may not be as sympathetic to your case as other attorneys are.
What should I Look for in the Paperwork?
1. Determine if the original creditor or an assignee is suing you?
2. If an assignee is suing you is a copy of the assignment attached to the complaint? If an assignee is suing you make sure that documentation is attached documenting the assignment. If not and you do not have a copy of it you may be able to argue that a copy must be attached to the complaint or be provided to you.
3. Is the agreement they are suing on attached to the lawsuit? If not and you do not have a copy of it you may be able to argue that a copy must be attached to the complaint or be provided to you.
4. Is there an affidavit attached to the complaint? If so you should file you own affidavit in defense of your suit when you file your answer.
What should I expect after I file an Answer to the Complaint? Part I
The court will usually set the matter for pre-trial. Most credit card suits are brought in the Michigan District Courts which has jurisdiction for cases up to $25K. Discovery in District Court cases cannot be conducted until the court orders the same. In Circuit Court cases in state court discovery can be conducted anytime after the suit is started.
The court will usually enter an order allowing discovery at the pre-trial in District Court Cases and will discuss the case with the parties and set deadlines for certain things. At the pre trial or a later time you may be required to list witnesses and exhibits to be used at trial.
Sometimes a party will bring a motion for Summary Disposition to have a judgment entered against the debtor or a debtor might move to have the case dismissed.
What should I expect after I file an Answer to the Complaint? Part II
Many courts will order the parties to case evaluation before trial in an attempt to settle the case. If your case is ordered to case evaluation you should carefully review the Michigan Court Rules on this topic as there can be monetary penalties for rejecting the award. Before the case evaluation you will be asked to submit a written summary of your case.
Three attorneys will review the written summaries of the parties and discuss the case with the attorneys for the parties and the parties (if self represented). before making an award they feel will settle the case.
If the case is not settled after case evaluation the case will be scheduled for trial.
What can I do if a judgment is Entered Against Me?
If a judgment is entered you should determine which assets you have which are exempt from collection. This is a tricky area and you should consult an attorney to avoid unintended consequences.
Also keep in mind that you can file a motion allowing you to pay the judgment in installment payments if you are an employee earning wages or are entitled to other periodic payments. If his motion is filed within 21 days of the judgment entry date the garnishment of wages will be stayed until the motion is denied or an order to pay the judgment in installments is violated.
If you are receiving social security payments they are entitled to special protection in most cases so long as the social security proceeds are not co-mingled with other funds.
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