Credit Card Lawsuits, Part IV.5: The Hearing Date

A quick interlude about your credit card lawsuit hearing date...

When you are served with a complaint by the sheriff, it will show a hearing date, usually on the cover sheet. This date often becomes a point of obsession for clients, and understandably so. It's not a routine experience to be served a complaint by a sheriff, and it is terrifying to think about missing a hearing date.

However, this hearing date is only important if you intend to formally respond to the complaint. I discussed these responses in an earlier post. It will require a formal answer to the complaint, exerting a valid legal defense (statute of limitation, for instance), and filed in the proper court using its forms and practices. If you make this full answer, the hearing will go on as scheduled and you will need to attend.

If you do NOT file a full, formal response, a default judgment will be entered against you around 30 days after you have been served by the sheriff, and the hearing listed on the complaint will be cancelled. The hearing date can be safely ignored, because no hearing will be held. The sheriff will not come looking for you, and you will not be held in contempt.

This is also true if you are filing a bankruptcy or negotiating a settlement through a lawyer. The bankruptcy automatic stay will automatically stop the credit card lawsuit from proceeding. Once again, there will be no lawsuit hearing to attend. If your attorney is actively negotiating with the creditor's law firm, they will routinely agree to hold off on proceeding (but make sure to verify this with your attorney!)

If you have any confusion about what hearing you need to attend and what hearing you can ignore, speak with your bankruptcy lawyer. But, the hearing listed on the cover sheet of the complaint will rarely be of concern in most instances.