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Posted: 10/15/2004 12:46:49 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/15/2004 1:25:26 AM EST by PeteCO]
I am probably going to see an attorney next week about this, but wanted to get input from anyone in the know here.

In July, I was sued in small claims court over a dispute over the sale of farm equipment. Specifically, I sold some grain bins and related equipment to a guy, who intended to part it out for a profit. He met me at the grain bins, inspected them, and signed my sales "receipt" which stated that the equipment wasn't warranted for suitability for any particular purpose and the they were as is, where is, and he owned them as of that moment. I can post the text of that agreement if that would help.

His claim was typical red herring BS stuff, he claimed that my Ebay ad said they were in ok shape, yet there were some rust spots at the base, that kind of crap. The real reason is that his resale deal fell through. Remember, he inspected them, acquiesced, and signed the receipt.

I forgot about the court date, assuming it was in September rather than August, and a default judgment was entered against me for $1077. More than the money, the principle pisses me off because of his BS accusations.

In September, I was served a form called "Motion and order for interrogatories". This form not only asks all sorts of questions about my financial status, but even wants my federal tax return attached. The detail they want on this form defies reason - they even ask if I have any utility deposits, securities, all my damn furniture - everything! No F-ing way this guy is going to see the information asked for on that form!!!

My questions are thus:

Can I have the judgment vacated (or whatever its called) even though a default judgment was entered? My sales agreement was as ironclad as they come.

What can I do about the fact that this interrogatory form said I needed to respond in 10 days, but about 35 days have elapsed? More importantly, have I committed a crime by ignoring it? If so, are the police gonna show up or what? I've never been arrested, and I don't want to be.

Any other info that would be helpful is appreciated.

Link Posted: 10/15/2004 5:01:50 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/15/2004 5:04:15 AM EST by FLAL1A]

Originally Posted By PeteCO:
I am probably going to see an attorney next week about this, but wanted to get input from anyone in the know here.

In July, I was sued in small claims court over a dispute over the sale of farm equipment. Specifically, I sold some grain bins and related equipment to a guy, who intended to part it out for a profit. He met me at the grain bins, inspected them, and signed my sales "receipt" which stated that the equipment wasn't warranted for suitability for any particular purpose and the they were as is, where is, and he owned them as of that moment. I can post the text of that agreement if that would help.

His claim was typical red herring BS stuff, he claimed that my Ebay ad said they were in ok shape, yet there were some rust spots at the base, that kind of crap. The real reason is that his resale deal fell through. Remember, he inspected them, acquiesced, and signed the receipt.

I forgot about the court date, assuming it was in September rather than August, and a default judgment was entered against me for $1077. More than the money, the principle pisses me off because of his BS accusations.

In September, I was served a form called "Motion and order for interrogatories". This form not only asks all sorts of questions about my financial status, but even wants my federal tax return attached. The detail they want on this form defies reason - they even ask if I have any utility deposits, securities, all my damn furniture - everything! No F-ing way this guy is going to see the information asked for on that form!!!

My questions are thus:

Can I have the judgment vacated (or whatever its called) even though a default judgment was entered? My sales agreement was as ironclad as they come.

What can I do about the fact that this interrogatory form said I needed to respond in 10 days, but about 35 days have elapsed? More importantly, have I committed a crime by ignoring it? If so, are the police gonna show up or what? I've never been arrested, and I don't want to be.

Any other info that would be helpful is appreciated.




Look for your state rules of court on the web. In Fla., a default can be set aside if the failure to respond was a result was a result of excuseable negligence, and that a viable defense exists. Also, the validity of the service can be attacked; if service was not lawfully perfected, it will unwind everything. There are also possible jurisdictional issues, depending on where it was filed vs where the transaction was concluded, et c. et c. No crime involved, you just end up with a judgment against you.

ETA: you can be sanctioned for failure to respond to the interrogatories - usually step 1 is a judge telling you to answer them. The interrogatories are part of discovery in aid of execution - gathering info on where the Plaintiff can get the money. You are probably entitled to get the property back, in any event. You aren't going to get a lawyer to do anything for a fee small enough to let you comeout ahead. My .02: pay the money and resell the bins.
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 5:12:53 AM EST
Its hard to undue a default for simply "missing" the court date, uless there was a defect in the service of process (which is next to impossible in Small Claims court as mailed summons work there). You had your chance to put on the merits of your defense and you blew it. Now you're in post judgment collection.

Failing to answer the interrogatories will lead to a motion to hold you incomtempt of court, followed by issuance of a bench warrant for your arrest. I've seen it happen and it ain't pretty.

Link Posted: 10/15/2004 5:18:15 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/15/2004 5:19:04 AM EST by legalese77]
Depending on the rules in your jurisdiction, you may have trouble getting a judgment vacated when you were apparently served properly but missed court without a compelling reason. In Illinois, if you move to vacate the judgment within 30 days, and you never explicitly consented to the entry of the judgment, it will nearly always be automatically vacated even without any good reason for failing to appear.

In Illinois, once that 30 day period has run, vacating a judgment becomes considerably tougher and it likely won't happen without a damn good reason.

Interrogatories, as suggested should be answered. Again, in Illinois, failure to do so could result in sactions and civil penalties but generally speaking, that can only be done upon motion, notice and hearing to the other party (you, in this case). In Illinois, it is strictly a civil matter. However, refusal to obey a court's order to answer may land you in jail on contempt until such time as you comply with the court's order.

In Illinois, a 1K case would be in small claims, and generally speaking, discovery (interrogatories, depositions, etc) is not allowed without a motion and hearing requesting leave of court to issue discovery. Unfortunately, all this may mean squat for you in Colorado. Each state varies wildly on civil law and procedure and many counties have their own local rules.

Good luck to you and the best thing you can do is talk to a lawyer licensed to practice law in CO. Hm, I just read the 1st response to your post...right on target, particularly regarding the "more trouble than it's worth" aspect...just pay him to go away, stop interest (if any) accruing on the judgment and make the interrogatories moot so that you don't have to disclose squat
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 5:29:09 AM EST
Interrogatories serve several purposes: To harass you, to "fish" for anything that can be used against you, to search your assets to see deep your pockets are, and so the lawyers can simply run up billable hours. I get interrogatories a couple times a year from my ex's lawyer, and have learned to respond to most of them with "I don't remember" or "I didn't save my tax returns, but I am willing to sign a limited waiver so that you can request copies yourself". I don't do the legwork for her to sue me - I let her pay her lawyer to do it.
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 5:36:05 AM EST
Go see a lawyer
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 9:00:40 AM EST
I have an appointment with my usual attorney on the 25th. A few years ago I sued my ex-employer and my total legal bill was $110. Very, very reasonable, considering they filed a suit on my behalf and wrote about 5 letters to these people before they coughed up my pay.

Hopefully, I won't be arrested between now and then. Is there any discreet way to find out if you have a warrant other than showing up at the police station and saying hi?
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