If I was never served with a summons to appear for a debt collection lawsuit, is the ruling legally binding?

My bank account was recently garnished so I contacted the garnishee. The law firm states a ruling was made by default. I, however, never even knew of the lawsuit and was definitely never served with a summons.

Asked on September 22, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Tennessee


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Since you were never served with the summons and complaint (the complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons), you did not file an answer to the complaint within the time set forth in the summons since you were unaware of it.  When you didn't file the answer, the default judgment was entered.

The ruling is legally binding, but you can file a motion to set aside the default.  Your argument would be that you were never served and therefore were unaware of the lawsuit and could not file a timely answer to the complaint.  If the judge grants your motion to set aside the default, the case is then back on track and litigation will continue.  The fact that you were never served is a very strong argument for granting your motion to set aside the default and the wage garnishment.

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