Default Judgments on Credit Card Cases
Default Judgments are AWFUL. They are a shame, they should not ever occur. A default judgment does occur whenever you ignore a lawsuit that has been filed against you. Many people make this mistake…if there is a default judgment against you, you are not alone. The thinking, I guess, is that you “can’t get blood out of a stone”. The problem with that thinking is that you might not always be a stone. Believe it or not, the other reason that default judgments are entered are because the defendant (the person being sued) is too “embarrassed” to ask for help or speak to an attorney. I’ve never been in the situation of being sued, but having done debt defense for over a decade now, I see no reason to be embarrassed. Life happens, deal with it while you have the opportunity to do so.
When people call my office they often want to explain why they didn’t pay the debt. Frankly, I don’t care. I am not being smart or obtuse, it’s just that why you didn’t pay doesn’t matter to your case, AT ALL. Look… I do between 30 and 40 of these cases each month. What are you possibly going to tell me that I haven’t heard before? In almost every situation, there was a job loss, a salary reduction, a health issue, a pregnancy or a divorce. That about sums it up. Every once in a while, a client will say that the credit card company screwed them on an interest rate and they stopped paying for that reason. Well, ALL of the reasons that I just listed are valid, but again, they do not matter to me and they do not help me win your case.
Back to the default judgment issues. There are two places that you can be sued. At your local District Justice (for cases 12,000 and under) and in the Court of Common Pleas. For cases at your local District Justice, you simply call that office and tell them that you are going to defend and then a default judgment will NOT be entered as long as you show up (or do the smart thing and send a consumer attorney). For cases that are filed in the Court of Common Pleas, there is a writing requirement. That is, you must file a written response to the lawsuit within 20 days of being served. If you are going to hire an attorney, LET THE ATTORNEY DO THIS. The initial written response is crucial.
What if they have obtained a Default Judgment?
If the Default was obtained at the local magistrate then you have 30 days to file an appeal. if you are beyond the 30 day period, then you are basically out of luck, UNLESS you can show that the lawsuit was never served upon you or it was improperly served upon you. If the Default was obtained in the Court of Common Pleas, there are a few possible avenues. You have 10 days to Open the Default, so if you move quickly, the judgment can be removed. If you are beyond the 10 day period, then we would have to look at defects in the documents to see if you can remove the judgment. These defects can include: Improper notices, failure to notify you of where the legal aid office is in your county, misleading or illegal additional language on the notices, or improper service.
Attacking a default judgment successfully is a rare occurrence. We probably find the justification to do this maybe 10 times per year. What you are really counting on is that the collector made a mistake with its paperwork. While this is a rare occurrence, it does happen, and we are glad to review all default judgment paperwork for you.
You cannot attack a Default Judgment if…
You cannot attack a default judgment because it is “past the statute of limitations”. You cannot attack it because the debt isn’t yours. You cannot attack it because the amount is incorrect or because they had your name slightly spelled wrong. I receive requests like these every day and they are not valid reasons for attacking a judgment. The key is to never let the judgment occur in the first place.
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Questions about Default Judgments? Call us at 412-823-8003 to see if we can assist you.