Responding to a Motion for Summary Judgment in a Debt Case
If you are defending yourself pro se from the debt collectors, it’s sometimes the little things that can stump you. As I have often said, Summary Judgments are “fact intensive,” meaning that defending yourself from them will depend primarily upon getting the important facts to the judge in the proper way, while legal argument is actually much less important. How do you get the facts in front of the judge? What facts do you use and how do you put them into your brief? That’s what these articles will show you. (To see some of this on video, go here.)
You Must Know the Rules
The first thing you should know about motions for summary judgment is that they are carefully controlled by the Rules of Civil Procedure for your jurisdiction and by something called “Local Rules,” which you can get from the courthouse or its website. These rules tell you exactly what form the motion should take, what is required to oppose it, and how much time you have. Your first move if the debt collector files a motion for summary judgment should be to look up those rules and understand them. It’s critical, because a misstep as to form of your response or its timing could easily cost you the case. Don’t give your case away. Responding to Motions for Summary Judgment, even with the materials available at this site, takes time! It is a significant undertaking under the best of circumstances, and even though the debt collectors typically leave large enough loopholes for you to drive through, it takes time and effort to find and develop them. Do not wait till the last minute to start working on your response.
What Format Does a Motion for Summary Judgment (and Your Response Opposing) Take?
Every state of which I am aware now uses a similar format for motions for summary judgment. They require the movant (person bringing the motion) to create a list of “undisputed” facts called a “Statement of Facts” with proof from the record supporting them. And that proof can be testimony by affidavit or deposition, or it can be answers to interrogatories or documents. Then the motion for summary judgment refers to those facts as necessary as it makes legal arguments. To prevent the court from giving the debt collector a summary judgment, you must demonstrate that there are factual issues of significance that require a trial. So if you are defending, your first line of defense is to attack the facts and show that there are important disagreements.
If you are representing yourself in debt litigation, and if you are facing a motion for summary judgment, you should consider purchasing the Response to Motions for Summary Judgment packet. This packet addresses an actual motion filed in a real case, and it deals very thoroughly with the facts and arguments actually made in a real case by a real debt collector (although the names have been changed to hide the identities of the people involved. It includes an attack on every phase of the debt collector’s motion including its rather bizarre motion for attorney’s fees and its deceptive use of an affidavit. It also includes an affidavit that could have been used in the case.