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    CarolO's Avatar
    CarolO Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 1, 2009, 09:06 AM
    Judgement Issued, Not Properly Served, What Can I Do Now?
    I live in California.

    I received a summons in a hand written envelope with no return address. The summons was dated April 3, and the envelope was post marked June 12th. The summons stated that I had 30 calendar days to reply to it. Since 30 calendar days had already gone by, and the summons was mailed in a blank envelope, I thought that it was an aggressive collection tactic and had nothing to do with the courts. I figured if I was being sued they'd have to at least send me something registered mail.

    Then I received a notice from one of my credit card companies stating they were canceling my card because of "Current or history of severe past due or Public Record item." This made me go searching for that summons and made me realize that even though I wasn't served properly, the summons was real.

    I met with an attorney who told me he would cost far more than the $3500 I was being sued for and that I should handle this myself. He looked into the case and said that a default judgment had been served, so I'd have to get the court to re-open it.

    I called Legal Aid who said my income fit their requirements and they'd like to help me but they would be hard pressed to find an attorney who didn't have a conflict of interest as most of them have relationships with the large banks.

    I'm completely overwhelmed and don't know what to do. I was laid off in March and have very limited resources. I'm not even sure this debt is mine. Had I been notified, I would have gone through a debt validation process. At this point, what forms do I need to fill out or what letters do I need to write to open this case up again and have them prove the debt is mine?

    Thanks for any help!
    DisabledinMD's Avatar
    DisabledinMD Posts: 68, Reputation: 0
    Junior Member

    Sep 30, 2009, 11:24 PM

    I don't know about CA, but in most states, the summons must be sent by Sheriff, Private Process Sever or Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested. Sounds like yours wasn't valid, but you need to research the laws for your state regarding contract cases in civil court.

    And if you don't even know if the debt is yours, you need to find out, get your credit report from a 3 agencies for free at and see what's in your report.

    If your state has it available, you might find a case summary of your trial online. Check your state's Civil court website. Search under your name and county, or case#, if the letter has one. You do still have the summons and the envelope, yes? You will need to present these to get the case re-opened and the judgment possibly reversed. As for forms, if available, they may be on the District Civil Court website for CA.

    I don't think anyone here can help you, like many questions posted here, you are basically on your own having to do the legwork. Your situation is beyond the scope of many here. Should you get a reversal, or the case re-opened, this forum has many posts telling you what you need to know and do as a Pro Se Litigant.

    I would ask for debt validation anyway, you are still entitled to that, regardless of the fact a default Judgment was obtained. Should you find that the summons was sent by a means not allowed by CA law, and/or the debt really isn't yours, and you go through the motions to re-open the case, or reverse the judgment; inform the debt collector of that. Sorry I can't give you specifics on how to proceed, but your court rules and debt co0llection laws should help you. Federal rules found at:

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