Failing to Respond to Requests for Admission
You Need to Fix This Fast
As you know if you’ve read any of my materials on the subject, when you fail to respond to any (or a set of) Requests for Admissions, they are, in most states, automatically “deemed” admitted. That means that if you do not take some action to change that, they will be considered proven and beyond dispute.
There is no need to file a motion to compel or any of the preliminary negotiation that might involve when it comes to requests for admissions. Fail to deny a request for an admission and it is considered admitted automatically. That means you can’t deny it later – either in response to a motion for summary judgment or at trial.
Debt Collectors Looking for a Quick, Cheap Victory
Naturally, debt collectors love requests for admissions because a little carelessness on your part can lead to a quick victory for them. They normally request that you admit that every single part of your answer, and all your denials of their allegations, are not true. Fail to respond and it looks like you have admitted your entire case was just a lie. They just wait a day or two after the time has passed and then file a motion for summary judgment.
What can you do about that? Well, if the time has passed for filing responses to the requests, you cannot simply serve denials on the other side and expect them to mean anything. They do not. Rather, you must ask the court’s permission “leave” to file them “out of time.” Your argument is that your state (and every one does) has a strong policy in favor of determining cases “on the merits” according to actual justice. Your failure to answer the requests is a mere technicality – you were not meaning to subvert or disrespect the legal process – and therefore you should be allowed to file your responses now. And of course you attach your responses to that motion.
Time Really Counts
The less late you are, the better your chance – and really you should win it almost every time.
One thing the debt collectors do to try to stack the deck against you is to file their motion for summary judgment as quick as they can. Then they will argue that they have been “prejudiced” by your attempting to take back all your admissions. That is, they will say, they have spent vast amounts of time and effort on their motion in the innocent belief that you had admitted everything. Well, it never worked for me when the shoe was on the other foot, but these are rich plaintiffs dealing with, in general, poor and disfavored defendants. And the shoe never really does go on the other foot in that situation, does it? Speaking realistically.
Your Case against the Debt Collector Rides on it
So you will have to work harder to get the admissions withdrawn. Remember that if you fail to do so, your case is basically over – you will have admitted everything against you. In a way, the extremity of their requests – and the blatant opportunism that implies – is your best argument. But there’s something else you can do to make your chances much better. Debt collectors file these cases by the dozens, and requests for admissions are their standard second step. And their standard third step? … filing motions for summary judgment. Chances are therefore very, very good that your debt collector will have file one or more (most likely) motions for summary judgment in exactly similar situations, making the same arguments. In fact, the motion for summary judgment will probably be standardized, too. You’ll see that only a few words were changed. You need to find at least one of those, because that will be proof that they did not spend any significant time on their motion for summary judgment, and their claim that they did is (going to be obviously) a lie.
Technically, what you would do here is Missouri (but I don’t know for your jurisdiction) is file a Motion for Leave to File Responses to Requests for Admissions out of Time, file the denials with them as an attachment, and file a Memorandum in Opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment based on the facts deemed and declared admitted by the debt collector being “mooted” by your denials. Because if you denied their requests for admissions, their motion for summary judgment will no longer have any basis at all.