Credit Card Summons Answer Template

You have probably already read that if you wish to contest a lawsuit that has been served on you, it is vital that you file a response to the summons and complaint from your credit card company or third party debt buyer. That decision is pretty straight forward but knowing how to respond is a different matter, especially knowing how to respond in a way that will give you the upper hand and at the same time does not expose you to further attacks.

In some states, a blank answer form can be downloaded from their official website or picked up from the court house. In those cases, you will probably find instructions on how to fill out the forms too. Follow those instructions closely as they come from the court that is overseeing your case.

Court staff will be able to help you with some of the administrative information and procedure but they are neutral and cannot give legal advice. There are several areas of the answer that require different information including the caption, admissions and denials, defenses and counterclaims.


The Caption

This is usually at the top of the form and is a heading that gives information about the case. All official court documents like the complaint, answers and motions (otherwise known as ‘pleadings’) use the same caption.

The caption should look something like this:



IN THE ___________________ COURT OF THE STATE OF _______________________

IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF _______________________



(YOUR OPPONENT’S NAME),



No. _______________________


Plaintiff,


ANSWER



vs



(YOUR NAME),



Defendant,




Most, if not all of this information should be found on your summons and complaint so copy the information from that onto the caption.


Admissions and Denials

This is your chance to address the allegations in the complaint. Use the central area of the page, below the caption, to give your answers. In an already prepared court form, this will be clear and may give you space to fill out your own answer as you like, or it may guide you.

For example, there may be something that looks like this:

  • Deny. All statements are untrue in paragraph numbers ___________________.
  • Admit. All statements are true in paragraph numbers _____________________.
  • Partially True. The information in the following paragraphs is partially true and partially false: _____________________________________________________.
  • In these partially true paragraphs, I deny everything except the following statements, which are true: ____________________________________________________.
  • Insufficient Information. I don’t have enough information to know if the following paragraphs and/or statements are true: ________________________________.

As you will notice, each separate accusation in the complaint is numbered by paragraph. You must address each complaint by admitting, denying, partially admitting or claiming that you have insufficient information to admit or deny.

Be very careful with the language you use. You cannot simple answer with ‘I don’t know’. Instead, you must use something like ‘insufficient information to admit or deny’. Check your court instructions for the exact wording you must use.

However, do not claim that you have insufficient information if this is not true. This is only a suitable response when you are not provided with the proof to verify a fact. For example, the plaintiff may claim that they own the debt they are claiming for. However, if you do not have proof of that, you can answer with ‘insufficient information’.


Affirmative Defenses

An affirmative defense is an allegation against the plaintiff that, if proven correct, defeats the claims made against the defendant even if they are true. Not everyone chooses to include affirmative defenses in their answer and there are various opinions on this. The Defendant Package talks you through some of the most common and useful affirmative defenses.

On some answer forms, there is simply a check box asking you which affirmative defenses you would like to use with space later for you to give supporting evidence.

For example, the complaint claims that you owe capital one $5,000. However, last year you went through the process of bankruptcy and the $5,000 along with other debts were dismissed. So, when claiming affirmative defenses, you can check ‘Discharge in bankruptcy’ and in the space below provide your bankruptcy case number and any other details that prove that you are no longer responsible for the debt.

Check whether any of the other affirmative defenses are applicable to your case.


Counterclaims

This is an opportunity for the defendant to raise charges against the plaintiff, if it is felt that they have broken the law in some way. These counterclaims must be related to the case being disputed rather than a separate issue.

If there are no counterclaims, this should be stated. For example, ‘Defendant has no counterclaims’. If the defendant has counterclaims, exact details with proof should be provided in this space.


Completing the Answer

Your answer must be signed and dated. Make at least two copies of every page of your answer and deliver one copy to your plaintiff or your plaintiff’s lawyer.

Delivery by hand is best, to ensure it arrives on time. If you leave it with a receptionist, ask them to stamp both the original and the copy with ‘copy received’.


Certificate of Service

If you mail the answer, it is important to get proof of postage for both your records and the court. In this case, fill out a certificate of service. A blank form can usually be found on your court’s website or at the court house.

It is important that you identify what kind of legal paper the certificate of service refers to; in this case it is the answer.


File on Time

Having worked hard to complete your answer, it is vital that you submit it and file your answer with the plaintiff within the time limit set out in your summons. If you have already missed your deadline, it is important to file it anyway, as soon as possible; a late answer may well be better than no answer at all.



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