I recently filed a motion to show cause in regards to a default judgement in nyc civil court. I am being sued by a school who says I owed them money. Anyway, I got the judge to vacate the income execution against me because I had no idea I owed them any money and was never served any summons or income execution. However on my appointed court date, the case was adjourned due to a religious holiday and now I have to go back Nov 7. My question is what documents can I bring showing the judge I am not able to make any payments at the moment if I do owe any money because of my low income and other financial obligations?
3 Answers from Attorneys
Correct. The only thing that showing such information will do is give a reason why you can ask for a stipulation of settlement wherein you pay a small amount each month.
If there is no stipulation, you will have a judgment rendered against you.
Since your original judgment was vacated due to defective service, you cannot make the same argument.
First of all...when did you incur the obligation? Was it more than 6 years ago? If so, the statute of limitations MAY have run. (they can't sue you for an OLD OLD debt.) Check that.
Second...you need to see the documentation that evidences the debt so you can make sure it was not an error. Errors are made all the time. Did you have loans to cover tuition? Did you leave early in the term so as not to be responsible for ALL the charges? Is it just tuition or did they add other charges like collection fees, late fees, damages to property, etc. How are you to know unless you see what they are using to calculate what you owe?
The court is not going to make you do anything...they are not there to force you to pay their sole function is to determine if you owe the money or not. And Nov 7 is NOT the trial date it is just the date the court will determine IF they will vacate the judgment...They usually do. Do you live in an apartment building? service of summons and complaint in large buildings is spotty. As a matter of fact, service of summons and complaints by certain collection firms has been determined to be fraudulent (the summons and complaints were never served). How old is the judgment?
Don't argue inability to pay...the court doesn't care. Argue that you have NO knowledge of the claim and want to SEE ALL THE DOCUMENTS that the law firm who sued you has in their possession. You are entitled to see everything and anything you signed. Admit NOTHING to the court other than you did go to school but you thought everything was paid because you would have NOT been able to graduate owing $$. Many schools operate that way.
You want the judgment vacated and an opportunity to defend the claim. That's the relief you need. The court will probably give it to you and you will file an ANSWER that says basically that you don't owe the money...they have to prove you do.
Demand the plaintiff provide you with all the information in writing, copies of documents, etc.
Where did you go to school? Out of state?
Did the debt get sold to another company? Institutions sell debt all the time and if they did, you can demand proof of the sale...Also, if it was sold it means that the school can't or won't provide anyone to testify if the case goes all the way to trial...so there is an incentive for the plaintiff (the entity that is suing you) to settle because without a witness they cannot win at trial.
When you went to school there was a student handbook that basically was the agreement between you and the school...GET A COPY and read about your responsibilities as a student.