What will happen if I ignore a summons to a civil case?

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What will happen if I ignore a summons to a civil case?

I owe a bank a little over $1,000 and I am being served. I am in no position to pay, if I skip the court date what would happen?

Asked on February 22, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you ignore the summons and don't file an answer to the complaint (the complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons) within the time set forth in the summons and serve a copy by mail on the opposing party or the opposing party's attorney, the opposing party will have a default judgment entered against you.  Judgment by default means you will have lost the case.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default with the court and serve a copy by mail on the opposing party.  If the court grants your motion to set aside the default, the case will then be back on track and litigation will continue.  If the bank gets a judgment against you, the bank can also recover attorney's fees.

To avoid these problems, file an answer to the complaint with the court and serve a copy of your answer on the opposing party within the time set forth in the summons.  An answer denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the law library, look for answer to complaint in the index of Pleading and Practice.  This will give you the general format for an answer to a complaint.  At the end of the answer is the verification which you sign and date under penalty of perjury.  The verification attests to the veracity of your statements in the answer.  File your answer to the complaint with an attached proof of service with the court and mail a copy to the opposing party or opposing party's attorney.  The proof of service verifies the date of mailing.  You can either use a court form proof of service or you can write your own.  If you write your own proof of service, it just says that you are over eighteen and the attached documents were sent via first class mail unless stated otherwise to _______ (name and address of opposing party or opposing party's attorney) on ________ (date).  You sign and date at the bottom.  The date you sign should be the same as the date of mailing and the same date you file your documents with the court.


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