Can I get a default judgement vacated if I was told that I didn’t have to worry about a summons that I received?

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Can I get a default judgement vacated if I was told that I didn’t have to worry about a summons that I received?

I told the man I spoke to that I didn’t want to have a judgment placed against me and he said I didn’t have to worry because judgments take a long time. I tried to settle and the amount they gave me to pay was too much for me to afford over 3 months. A few days before I got the summons I got a letter from that firm to call them and make payment arrangements. The letter was dated after they filed the summons – as if they had no intention of working with me in the first place. I didn’t answer the summons because I was told not to worry about it.

Asked on May 19, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

While you can try, you will very likely not be able to vacate this default judgment. Courts will only vacate a default judgment for good cause, usually referred to as "excusable neglect." Typical examples include illness, incarceration, or other business or personal crises (e.g. a house burning down), all of which preclude meeting the trial date. However, not answer a summons because the other party--e.g. the party which wants to recover money from you and which is most definitely not on your side--told you to not worry  is not a good reason or excuse. A court would most likely find it was not reasonable for you to rely on what the other party told you about the matter.


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