Georgia Credit Lawsuits

Information about credit card and other debt collection lawsuits in Georgia

Discovery in a Georgia credit card lawsuit

Credit card lawsuits in Georgia’s State and Superior Courts allow parties to ask each other questions, request documents, and even demand the other side admit or deny something specific.

This is called Discovery.

Discovery is also why defending a credit card case is more expensive in State or Superior court than it is in Magistrate court (which does not allow discovery).

In this post, I will briefly outline the three main discovery tools used in credit card lawsuits in Georgia.

These are:

  1. Requests for Admission
  2. Interrogatories
  3. Requests for the Production of Documents.

Discovery rules in Georgia credit card lawsuit generally

Discovery rules are covered in Georgia’s Civil Practice Act, O.C.G.§ 9-11-1 et seq.  (Free Georgia Code from LexisNexis.)

The specific code sections covering the three main types of discovery used in Georgia credit card lawsuits are as follows:

  1. Requests for admissions, O.C.G.A. § 9-11-36
  2. Interrogatories, O.C.G.A. § 9-11-33
  3. Requsts for the Production of Documents, O.C.G.A. § 9-11-34

Discovery deadlines

You must respond to discovery requests within 30 days of when they were mailed to you.  You can find out this date from the Certificate of Service attached to the discovery.

If discovery is served on your with the Summons and Complaint, then you have 45 days to respond.

You can ask the other side for an extension of the deadline for responding.  I recommend you get this in writing.  I also recommend you grant an extension on the other side if you send your own discovery.  It’s common practice and it is the polite thing to do.  (Take the high ground, no matter how angry you are with the other side!)  However, do not allow more than 30 days of an extension—and don’t expect more yourself.

Penalties for not responding to discovery

Responding to discovery within this deadline is important.  Failure to do so can result in a motion to compel, attorney fees being awarded to the other side, or even having your Answer struck.

Before a motion to compel can be filed the other side must comply with Rule 6.4 of the Uniform Rules of Superior Court.  This rules says both sides must make a good faith effort to resolve any discovery conflicts before filing a Motion to Compel.  This is usually done by sending a letter, typically called a 6.4 Letter.

Requests for admissions have their own penalty, and it is harsh.  We will discuss it more in the requests for admissions section below.

Requests for Admissions in Georgia credit card lawsuits

Requests for admissions ask the other side to admit or deny specific statements.  This is kind of like how Answers work.  In fact, I have seen some requests for admissions which are almost exact copies of the Complaint.

You can read more at O.C.G.A. § 9-11-36.

To respond, simply state either “Admit” or “Deny” for each numbered paragraph.  You can qualify this or explain your response, but it is not required.

BE CAREFUL, however.  Once you Admit something, it can be used against you.  The only way to change your answer is to file a “Motion to Withdraw Admissions.”  These can be complicated.

So make sure you respond in a way that (1) you can support and (2) will help your case.  If you admit you owe the Plaintiff a debt, then you admitted you owe the Plaintiff something.  If you Admit the Plaintiff is the owner of the debt, then you have removed that argument from the case.

Which leads to the big risk when it comes to Requests for Admissions—not responding within 30 days!

Penalty for not responding to Requests for Admissions within 30 days

Didn’t respond to requests for admissions within 30 days of it being mailed or served?  Then you just ADMITTED each one.  Which, if you read above, you know is a bad thing for your case.

Why?

Because when a lawyer sends requests for admissions we look at each point we must prove in a case, or disprove, and we have a request for admission for each one.  So let’s review the five elements of a third party debt collection case.  Plaintiff must prove:

  1. Plaintiff is the real party in interest (was assigned the debt);
  2. The subject matter of the Contract;
  3. Consideration (use of the card, typically);
  4. Mutual assent to the terms of the Contract;
  5. Damages (the amount you owe).

So my requests for admissions would ask you to admit or deny that each of those 5 exist.  If you fail to respond, you’ve proven my case for me.

The only way to get out of this is a Motion to Withdraw Admissions.  For this, you really want an experienced credit card attorney.  I’ve done a number of these, and I’ve won far more than I’ve lost.  But these motions are not easy, and they’re not a given.

Use at trial or in Motions for Summary Judgment

Admissions can be used at trial or in motions for summary judgment.  They are the strongest proof of any of the three discovery methods.

Interrogatories in Georgia credit card lawsuits

An interrogatory is a question.  Interrogatories in discovery are questions you ask the other side.  You can ask the other side 50 questions.  This includes subquestions.  So if you have 50 questions, but each question has 3 subparts, that will be too many.  (And yes, we lawyers fight over what counts as a subquestion.)

You can learn more about it by reading O.C.G.A. § 9-11-33.

When you respond to interrogatories, you are supposed to “verify” them.  This requires you to make a statement swearing that the answers to the interrogatories are true and correct to the best of your knowledge.  This statement must be notarized.

Keep in mind that if you send your own interrogatories, then look to see if the other side verified them.  (They often don’t, and you have to demand that they do.)

Use at trial or in a Motion for Summary Judgment

Interrogatories can be used at trial or in a motion for summary judgment, but only if they are VERIFIED by the other side.  So get them verified.

Requests for the Production of Documents in Georgia credit card lawsuits

Requests for the production of documents (or just document requests, or RFPDs) are just what they say they are—requests that the other side provide documents.

You do not have to provide the documents if you do not have them, but you have to state why you cannot provide them.

There is no limit on the number of these requests which can be made, although too many will result in objections on the requests being overly burdensome.

Use at trial or during a Motion for summary Judgment

You can use the documents at trial or during a motion for summary judgment, but only if you have hearsay objections to the documents and they are relevant.  This will usually be the case, but if you have questions about this then you need to research Georgia’s evidence rules.

Other considerations when it comes to discovery

Not all questions or requests made in discovery must be answered.  The request might not lead to the discovery of relevant information.  It may be something protected by law.  It may be overly burdensome.

Also, remember that you can answer without having all the information and documents at the time.  You can also qualify your answers based on your current knowledge and provide updated answers later on.  (This is called continuing discovery.)

Conclusion

These are not the only discovery tools.  For example, you can also depose people.  (This costs money for the court reporter, the space to depose, the transcript, and the time to do it.)  You can also use non-discovery tools like Subpoena’s duces tecum (which is a subpoena to someone demanding they bring documents or reasons why those documents cannot be brought).

In the end, though, hiring an experienced credit card lawsuit attorney will go a long way to ensuring you handle the discovery process of a trial properly.

So speak to an experience credit card lawsuit attorney about your case.  Most of us are willing to enter a case at the discovery stage.

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