I've Been Sued! Understanding the Steps that Lead to a Judgment

by John Skiba
Contact

I have mentioned before that lately I am seeing more people come in for a bankruptcy consultation that have been sued by one of their credit card companies. Usually it is for smaller amounts, less than $5,000. Nothing sends more panic through a person to have the process server show up and the door one evening (they always seem to drop by late at night) and get handed a lawsuit.

While receiving the lawsuit is nothing to ignore, it can help calm your nerves a little to understand the litigation process and when you can expect that your credit card will actually be able to obtain a judgment against you. Below are the steps to how a judgment is obtained in Arizona:

Step 1: You Receive the Summons and Complaint

The documents the process server has dropped off at your house likely were comprised of a Summons and Complaint. The Summons is the document that lets you know that a lawsuit has been filed against you and that you have 20 days to respond by filing a written Answer with the court.

The Complaint is the document that lets you know who is suing you and what they are alleging you have done or what amount of money they are trying to get from you. In addition to the Summons and Complaint you may get a document entitled "Certificate on Compulsory Arbitration." In Arizona certain cases are required to go through an arbitration process before they will be allowed to go to trial. Arbitration is a less formal way of resolving the dispute than trial. In Maricopa County, Arizona cases where there is less than $50,000 in dispute must go through the compulsory arbitration process. If you receive this document it is merely alleging that the case is worth less than $50,000 and must go through the arbitration process.

Step 2: Responding to the Complaint

If you dispute what is alleged in the Complaint, you must file a written Answer to the Complaint within 20 days from the day you received the lawsuit from the process server. If you do submit a written Answer the case will then be put on a track towards heading for trial. If you don't file a written Answer you risk getting a Default Judgment entered against you.

Step 3: Application for Entry of Default Judgment

If you do not file an written Answer to the Complaint within the 20 day period, you will likely receive another document, this time in the mail, that is entitled "Application for Entry of Default Judgment". This is the plaintiff/creditor's way of letting you know that they are now seeking to have a default judgment entered against you because you haven't responded. If you still want to submit a written Answer you must do so within 10 days from the day the Application for Entry of Default was filed with the court. If you don't, you are well on your way to having a Default Judgment entered against you.

Step 4: Motion for Default Judgment

If the 10 days go by and you still haven't filed a written Answer to the Complaint, the next document you will receive in the mail is a Motion for Default Judgment. The Motion for Default Judgment is the plaintiff/creditor's opportunity to lay out why they are entitled to judgment and what amount they are asking for. At this point if you have not filed a written Answer you have lost your right to do so. The court will have already entered a default against you and now the judge will sign a Default Judgment that can be used to collect money from you in the form of a wage garnishment or the garnishing of your bank accounts.

Step 5: Your Wages Get Garnished

Now that a judgment has been entered against you, the plaintiff/credit can take that judgment and use it to garnish up to 25% of each of your paychecks and garnish your bank accounts, taking all but $150 of the money in your account. If you need to file bankruptcy, you will want to do it prior to the garnishment.

Stopping the Lawsuit Through Bankruptcy

If you have been served with a lawsuit the filing of a bankruptcy case will stop this process in its tracks. No matter what stage or step the lawsuit is in, once the bankruptcy case is filed with the court the collection case against you must stop. Even if a Default Judgment has been entered against you, it can be eliminated through a bankruptcy filing.

If you need to file bankruptcy and are having your wages garnished, the bankruptcy will stop the garnishment and void the underlying judgment.

You Have Time, Just Not a Lot of It

Once you get served with a lawsuit, you don't need to panic. However you can't ignore it and expect it to go away. There is plenty of time to meet with a bankruptcy attorney, get your bankruptcy case ready to file, and file it prior to a default judgment being entered.

If you have been served with a lawsuit, I would be happy to meet with you and discuss your bankruptcy options or determine if it is a lawsuit you should contest. My bankruptcy consultations are always free. Give me a call at (480) 420-4028 or via email at john@skibalaw.com .

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© John Skiba, Arizona Consumer Law Group, PLC | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

John Skiba
Contact
more
less

Arizona Consumer Law Group, PLC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!