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Creditor Lawsuits Creditor Lawsuits

If a Lawsuit Is Filed

Answering the Complaint

How you respond to the Complaint depends on the creditor situation (our Lawsuit Defense Partner Program can steer you in the right direction here as well). In general, however, you will respond to the complaint by answering line-by-line the allegations brought by the Plaintiff with an admission or denial of the specifics of each allegation. For example, item #1 on the complaint might read something like this:

"(Plaintiff) is a national bank duly authorized and chartered by the state of (whatever state) to do business in this state."

While that sounds like a factual statement, how do you know it is in fact true? Your response to that portion of the complaint could be:

"Defendant has insufficient information with respect to the material allegations contained in item #1 of plaintiff's complaint and can neither admit nor deny the claims. As such defendant calls on plaintiff to prove claim."

Remember, don't make their job any easier by admitting to something they should have to prove. The more they have to prove the more likely they are to give up or mess up!

Or you might wish to admit that a claim is true. Item #2 might state:

"Defendant is a resident of (your county)."

If you are in fact a resident of that county, you could respond:

"As regards to item #2, defendant admits the material allegations contained in item #2."

Your goal is to address each count. You can do so item by item, or in some instances (which vary by state) you might simply summarize by using language such as:

"Defendant denies each of the material allegations contained in items #2, 3, 4, and 5 and calls on the plaintiff to prove those allegations and provide strict proof thereof."

Then, in most cases you will add language at the end of your answer similar to:

"Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."

This statement challenges the legal sufficiency of the entire proceeding: there is no injury, no damage—just a claim for money.

You will file your answer to the complaint with the county clerk within 14 to 30 days, depending on the requirements in your state. Copies of your answer are mailed to the plaintiff's attorney. It is important to note that in a few states (Washington, for example) a debt collection attorney can draw up pleading papers and you have 20 days to answer the attorney, not the court. In those cases you are not served with a court summons, but with a complaint from a collection attorney. After you respond, the attorney should let you know whether they plan to file a suit or not. Just to be safe, you should call your county clerk about a week after you respond to see if the credit lawsuit has been filed. (You can call the county clerk at any time to see if a suit has been filed against you.)

Next you will mention that you plan to initiate a process called "discovery."

> Discovery

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