Those in financial difficulty are frequently not operating at their peak. I know that.
But for the life of me, I can’t understand how the recipient of a summons and complaint from a California court can read the papers and absorb only that they have a “court date”.
How California lawsuit works
The basic outline of a law suit is that the creditor files a complaint with the court. The court issues its summons, which validates the complaint and puts the defendant on notice that there is a legal suit pending.
The summons tells the person served plainly that they must file a typewritten answer to the complaint within 30 days of service. Fail to file an answer and the other side may get a judgment for the relief prayed for, which is usually money.
Served along with the complaint is a notice of case management conference on a given date. The CMC is well after the date on which the answer is due.
At the case management conference, assuming that an answer has been filed, the court will set deadlines, trial dates, etc.
But none of this scheduling is necessary if the defendant has not contested the complaint by filing an answer.
You must answer
Why is it that a consumer debtor grasps only the date of the case management conference, and absorbs none of the rest of the message that says clearly, in two syllable words, that one must file an answer for there to be anything for a court to decide?
I should have a cassette tape to play to tell clients that the case management conference date is meaningless if you didn’t file an answer.
If you don’t have a defense to the action, that’s fine. If you agree that you owe the amount of money shown in the prayer of the complaint, there may be no need for an answer and a defense.
Just don’t obsess about a date that means nothing if you didn’t take the time to read the summons and understand that filing an answer is the price of admission to the courthouse.
Lawsuit is a wake-up call
Often, the filing of a lawsuit is just the most dramatic evidence that your finances are scrambled.
Consider whether you spend your energies fighting this one action, or whether you need a more global remedy like bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy and the alternatives
Image courtesy of Pixabay.