The paper was delivered tonight by the
sheriff. It was the plaintiff and me as the
defendant. Court of Common Pleas, Indiana
That's unfortunate. Even though it's a relatively small amount as courts go (PA small claims limit is 10,000) the fact that it was filed in what amounts to regular civil court means there is precious little reference material available at the layman's level of understanding.
And I suppose the creditor does that on purpose because credit card agreements provide that loser pays winners attorney fees so they don't care what it costs them to go to court, it'll all end up in what you owe. And they also figure that the procedures are so complicated that defendants won't respond or respond improperly and they'll get a default or summary judgment.
Your notice to respond within twenty days probably looked something like this:
I did some googling and found the following website that provides instructions on how to file an answer and refers to specific rules of civil procedure that relate to the instructions.
What might be more helpful to you is a sample I found of an answer. It starts on the 4th page:
I imagine it looks daunting, but yours doesn't have to be that complicated.
Each of the numbered responses are referring to the numbered allegations on the complaint.
If you look at your own complaint you'll see a lot fewer allegations than the sample is responding to and you'll just have to make your answer conform to your court name and respond to the allegations in a similar fashion.
Then you file it with the court, sending a copy to the plaintiff's attorney.
That will, at least, buy you some time because, after the answer is filed, the discovery period starts and that could take a couple of months.
This cc account hasnt been used in over 2
years and the orginial amount owed was around
1500. The rest is penalties and fees. I
couple yrs ago I tried to make arrangments
but they wanted too much in montly payments
and wouldnt take less, so I quit paying.
That was a mistake. Even though they say they won't take less, whatever payment you make they would have likely just applied to the debt and as long as they were receiving steady money, at least they wouldn't have been likely to sue you.
I guess I am just trying to see what steps I
should take since I cannt afford an attorney.
While you are working on the answer it might be a good idea to call the attorney and remind him that there's no wage garnishment in PA for credit card debt and see if they'll agree to a payment plan instead of pursuing the lawsuit.
FYI - the statute about no wage garnishment is:
Title 42 PA CSA Judiciary and Judicial Procedure, Part VII - Civil Actions and Proceedings, Chapter 81 - Judgments and other Liens, Subchapter B - Exemptions from Execution, Section 8127 - Personal earnings exempt from process:
If negotiating a payment plan doesn't work, try borrowing the money from family. By the time the lawsuit is over you could owe two or three times the 2200.