Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Virginia

Judgment & Distant Forum Abuse

Years ago (10), there was a judgment entered against me a in VA court for a credit card debt. However, the only notification I received about the hearing was by mail (i.e. I was not served with papers,& were not even sent certified).At the time,I was,and still am,a resident of PA.The Court was located in Richmond. I was working full-time (plus lots of overtime) to support myself, my family and pay for college. I was not in a position to be taking off work (in my location, VERY hard to find,& I had no vacation/personal time benefit) to drive to a court 7 hours away. I did not appear for the hearing and a default judgment was entered. What, if anything, can be done about the judgment? I read about ''distant forum abuse'' re: VA proceedings. Is this a valid defense to have the case reopened/judgment vacated? To date, there has been no effort to enforce the judgment, nor have I ever been notified that a ''sister'' judgment was issued here in PA. What course of action should I take? Someone out there PLEASE HELP ME..in retrospect, I would have handled things differently, but I was young,nieve and stupid (I realize not a valid legal defense). This was probably the worst mistake of my life, and it is literally costing me my health.

Asked on 10/22/05, 9:35 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Daniel Press Chung & Press, P.C.
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Re: Judgment & Distant Forum Abuse

Virginia allowed, at that time, for out-of-state residents to be served by regular mail from the Secretary of the Commonwealth. If you did not have sufficient contacts with Virginia for personal jurisdiction to exist, the judgment will not be enforceable in PA; also, PA could conceivably agree with MD and hold that the mail service is not sufficient for it to enforce the VA judgment. Finally, if this was a General District Court judgment and was not docketed in Circuit Court or otherwise extended, it expires 10 years after entry. You may want to have a VA lawyer look at the file for you, see what the status is in VA, and then advise you as to what, if anything, you should do.

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10/22/05, 10:49 am

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