If you have been sued by one of the big debt buyers like Midland Funding, Portfolio Recovery Associates, or Cavalry SPV the one thing you want to avoid is a default judgment. A default judgment will be entered against you if you fail to file a written response, known as an “Answer”, to the complaint you were served with.
As you likely read the Summons you received along with the Complaint provides that you have twenty (20) calendar days to file your Answer with the court. If you don’t you run the risk of a default judgment.
However, Arizona’s procedure to obtain a default judgment is a little different than most states. In Arizona there are several steps involved and even if it has been more than twenty (20) days since you were served with Complaint it still may be worth your time to file the Answer and avoid default.
Below are the 4 steps that a junk debt buyer will have to go through in order to secure a default judgment:
Step #1 – The Application for Entry of Default
If twenty (20) days have gone by since service of the lawsuit and you have filed your Answer the first thing the junk debt buyer must do is file a document known as the “Application for Entry of Default”. This document must be mailed to you at the same address where you were served.
After the Application for Entry of Default has been filed you have ten (10) additional days in which to file your Answer. This is kind of the court’s way of saying “are you sure you don’t want to file an Answer?”. It is important to note that these are ten (10) calendar days from the day the Application for Entry of Default was filed with the court – not from the day you received it.
For example, if the junk debt buyer filed its Application for Entry of Default on January 8th then you would have ten (10) days from January 8th to file an Answer – even if you didn’t get a copy of it in the mail until January 10th.
If you file an Answer at any time within those ten days a default will not be entered and you can continue forward with defending your debt collection lawsuit. But what happens if you don’t…
Step # 2 – The Entry of Default
This step is really one that the court takes care of. If you don’t file your Answer within ten (10) days from the filing of the Application for Default the clerk of the court will enter a default against you. NOTICE I didn’t say a “default judgment”. There is a difference between the entry of “default” and a “default judgment” (this is why law school is three years long – too many stupid rules).
The entry of default by the clerk of the court means that you will no longer be able to defend yourself against the case and all of the allegations contained within the Complaint are deemed admitted by the court.
Step #3 – The Motion for Default Judgment
After the clerk enters a default against you the junk debt buyer will then file a Motion for Default Judgment. Even though the court is deeming you to have admitted all of the allegations the court is still required to review the evidence and see if there is sufficient evidence to enter a judgment against you. A few years back the Arizona state legislature amended Arizona law to make this step much easier on the junk debt buyers (I guess elections have consequences).
Step #4 – The Default Judgment
After the first three steps have taken place if the court determines that the junk debt buyer has provided enough evidence for the entry of judgment then a default judgment will be entered against you with the full power to garnish wages, levy your bank account, and lien your home.
And while the court does review all of these documents and I can tell you from experience of handling these cases every day that if you don’t file an Answer a default judgment will be entered against you, no matter how flimsy the evidence is.
The Good News!
There is some good news in all of this…you can avoid the whole thing by simply filing an Answer.
Schedule a Free Consultation!
John Skiba, Esq.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your debt problem and help you put together a game plan to eliminate your debt once and for all. Give us a call at (480) 420-4028