Georgia Credit Lawsuits

Information about credit card and other debt collection lawsuits in Georgia

How to Answer a Credit Card Lawsuit

A Sheriff’s Deputy or a Private Process Server has come to your door and given you papers. Those papers are a credit card lawsuit. What happens now?

This post will examine the process for responding to a credit card lawsuit Complaint with an Answer. This discussion is based on Georgia law, and it is only being provided as an example for information purposes only.

Remember, every credit card lawsuit case is different, and you should speak with an experienced credit card lawsuit attorney if you have been sued by a credit card company or a third-party debt collector.

Remember Credit Card Lawsuit Deadlines

Remember from an earlier post that there is a 30-day deadline for responding to a credit card lawsuit. You respond to a credit card lawsuit by filing what is called an “answer.” Failure to respond by filing an answer can result in what is called a “default judgment.” This means you’ve lost the case by not showing up—an expensive no show!

What is an Answer?

An Answer is a chance for you to admit or deny the claims brought by a third-party debt collector in a credit card lawsuit. You can either admit or deny the debt collectors claims. We’ll look at a model credit card lawsuit Complaint and a model credit card lawsuit Answer as part of this blog post.

Analyzing a Complaint

First, take some time to look over the model credit card lawsuit Complaint. The credit card lawsuit Complaint has an opening paragraph that introduces the Plaintiff and briefly states what this document is. Then the Complaint has a series of numbered paragraphs.  These numbered paragraphs are the meat of the Complaint.  (Or should be, if drafted properly.)

Paragraph 1 of the credit card lawsuit Complaint states that this court has the right to make a judgment on this credit card lawsuit. Jurisdiction means the court can issue an order the Defendant must follow, and venue means that this court is the right location for the credit card lawsuit matter to be heard. Finally, in this credit card lawsuit Complaint the Defendant’s address is included in this paragraph.  (Sometimes it has its own paragraph.)

Paragraph 2 states more details such as (1) the amount allegedly owed, (2) any interest allegedly owed, (3) whether the Plaintiff was the original creditor, and (4) what Exhibits contain more information. Sometimes these allegations are contained in multiple paragraphs. When I write my own complaints I tend to break each paragraph down into one element each, but the third party debt collector I modeled this mock credit card lawsuit Complaint off of likes to put all of these claims in one paragraph.

Paragraph 3 of the mock credit card lawsuit Complaint states that the Plaintiff has tried to collect the debt but the Defendant has not paid. I do not think this is necessary, but I know the creditor attorneys who I modeled this Complaint off of tend to include a paragraph like this. Of course, I defend against creditors, so I don’t draft these types of complaints myself.

Responding to the Complaint

First, take some time to look over the model credit card lawsuit Answer.

The basic structure of an Answer, whether for a credit card lawsuit or any other lawsuit, is as follows:

  1. Defenses;
  2. Answer (Admissions and Denials);
  3. Counterclaims (if any); and
  4. Certificate of Service.
In this Answer I have raised a defense called “failure to state a claim.” This simply means that the Complaint fails to state a claim that the court can grant a judgment on. This is a standard defense included by many attorneys in their Answers, but it is also difficult to win on. The Plaintiff’s attorney has to really mess up to have a Complaint dismissed for failure to state a claim.

When you respond to a credit card lawsuit Complaint, you have to either admit or deny the claims made by the Complaint. In my model credit card lawsuit Answer, I do this by admitting or denying the numbered paragraphs in the credit card lawsuit Complaint. Notice that my paragraph numbers match the Complaint’s paragraph numbers.

I admitted paragraph 1 of the Complaint, but denied paragraphs 2 and 3.

Remember that paragraph 1 was the paragraph about the Defendant’s address and whether the court can hear this case. Sometimes Plaintiffs filing credit card lawsuits get this wrong, so if the residential/living location facts in a credit card lawsuit Complaint are wrong you should deny them.

Paragraph 2 had the meat of the Plaintiff’s claims. The safest thing to do here is to deny this. However, there is a risk if you deny something that is true. Knowing when to deny claims and when to admit them is a skill attorneys pick up through litigation practice, and this is one reason why it can be important to hire an experienced credit card lawsuit attorney to handle your case.

Paragraph 3 did not really matter, but when in doubt deny the claim.

My Paragraph 4 is a catch-all paragraph. This catch-all basically states that anything not specifically denied or admitted in the Answer is hereby denied.

Verifying Your Answer—Why you need to do this

Many credit card lawsuit Complaints are supported by affidavits stating that the facts in them are true and correct. Under Georgia law, if a Complaint is sworn to by the Plaintiff then the Answer must also be sworn to by the Defendant.

This is called “Verification.” What you do is have a document that you, the Defendant, sign an have notarized swearing that the facts of the Answer are true and correct to the best of your knowledge. Your attorney cannot sign this for you.

Failure to verify your Answer may result in it being rejected by the court. (This is called having your Answer “stricken.”)

If you do fail to verify your Answer, your can usually file a Verification later. This type of failure is called an “amendable defect,” which means courts usually give you a chance to fix the error.

The mock Answer you reviewed as part of this post includes an example of a Verification.

Dangers of Verification

A word of caution about verification—your are swearing that the facts are true and correct to the best of your knowledge when you verify your Answer. This means the statements in your Answer can be used in any future court proceedings. You should consult with an experienced litigation attorney if you are having to verify an Answer.

Counterclaims

The mock Answer includes a Counterclaims section, but the section is empty. This is because counterclaims are trickier than just answering a Complaint.

You don’t need counterclaims to Answer a Complaint. However, if you have your own claims against the Plaintiff then they should be included here.

Failure to include a counterclaim may result in you waiving that counterclaim. Further, bringing a frivolous counterclaim can result in you paying the other side’s attorney’s fees.

Which is why you should speak with an experienced credit card lawsuit attorney before you file any counterclaims in a credit card lawsuit.

Certificate of Service

The final step in Answering a credit card lawsuit Complaint is including a certificate of service.

A certificate of service is a page signed by the person filing the Answer that they have provided a copy of the Answer to the other side.

When you file anything with the court, you must ALWAYS send a copy to the other side. So when you file your answer, send a copy of your answer via mail to the other side.

The certificate of service is merely a statement to the court that you have sent a copy to the other side.  (And yes, include a copy of the certificate of service when you send the Answer to the other side!)

Conclusion

Answers to credit card lawsuit Complaints have a number of elements. I’ve touched on them each here. However, there are tactics and strategies for each element.

While anyone who takes the time can learn how to handle this type of lawsuit (I did, after all), hiring a trained lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases can make a difference.

So speak with an experienced credit card lawsuit attorney if you’ve been sued over a credit card debt.

It is more expensive if you try to do it yourself and then have to hire an attorney to fix your errors. Trust me, I’ve had to do this for a number of my own clients.

Example Files

Mock Answer PDF

Mock Complaint PDF