Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Georgia

If a creditor files a civil suit in order to get a judgement are they considered one in the same? They haven't gotten the judgement yet as far as I know unless I fail to respond back to the civil suit. Am I right about that? The sol (statue of limitations) date is Sept. 1, 2013. If there has only been the filing of the civil suit prior to this date and it's now October, wouldn't the creditor be in violation of the FDCPA if they continue to pursue in trying to obtain in getting a judgement against me? Can I come back with an answer to the civil suit summons letting the creditor know that the sol on this debt has expired or does the filing of the civil suit prior to the sol take precidents?

Asked on 10/30/13, 7:22 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Glen Ashman Ashman Law Office

You need a lawyer - yesterday. The SOL only dictates when a case must be FILED, not when it must be finished. Continue on the mistaken path you are on, and you will lose the case, and then see your wages and bank accounts garnisheed, and a lien on your home. You may not have defenses at all (and the one you raise is NOT a defense), but, if you see a lawyer, he may think of others, or counterclaims, that help you (and if not, can help you with bankruptcy or other options). Do NOT file an answer pro se. You need counsel.

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Answered on 10/30/13, 7:28 pm

No. Filing a civil suit is NOT the same as entering a judgment. The statute of limitations runs from the time of default (roughly - it depends on the type of case; for a credit card it would be from the date of last payment of any kind on the debt) for a set period. The other end of that measuring stick is the date the lawsuit is filed. If the lawsuit is filed before the statute of limitations expires, the suit is timely regardless of the fact that the judgment is entered after it has already expired. And if this is for a credit card debt or something like that, the statute is 6 years in GA not 4.

It has been my experience in GA that creditors (if this is for a credit card or other debt like that) that do not routinely tell debtors that a judgment has been entered.

Unfortunately, you do not set forth any relevant details. What is this suit about? When did you receive the complaint? You have 30 days after receipt of the complaint to file an answer. You must raise the statute of limitations as a defense in any answer (assuming it would apply). If you don't and even if you had a valid statute of limitations defense, its waived.

You mention the FDCPA. What does this have to do with the statute of limitations? Nothing. Whether you have a claim under the FDCPA is a different issue but this is irrelevant to the question of whether you have a valid statute of limitations defense.

In reading your post, it appears that the suit was filed before September 1, 2013 when the statute would purportedly expire. If that is correct the suit is timely and you really cannot assert the defense in your answer if the lawsuit is timely. However, the statute of limitations is a tricky thing and really has to be evaluated by a lawyer to know what the statute of limitations is and whether or not suit was filed before it expired.

The real issue is when did you receive the documents? As I said, you only have 30 days to answer. Was this suit filed in magistrate court or state court? If magistrate's court, they will allow an extra 15 days.

I agree with Attorney Ashman that you need to have the paperwork reviewed by an attorney to know what you have, whether the time to answer has expired and decide what you should do about it. If this is your debt and the lawsuit is timely and you have no other defenses, filing an answer may or may not make sense depending on if suit was filed in small claims or not. I would get up with a lawyer quickly as your time is running out.

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Answered on 10/30/13, 9:41 pm

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