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Do I need to file Answer/Appearance for Conciliation Court?


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Before I say anything else, I want to say thanks to everyone here whose openness and willingness to share has made these forums so helpful. A special thanks to Ladynred, BigLaw, admin, and others for going above and beyond the call of duty. Your help is appreciated more than you know.

My wife received a Conciliation Court Statement of Claim and Summons on Friday from "MRC Receivables Corporation as successor in interest to Household Bank c/o Messerli & Kramer, P.A." We live in Minnesota, the amount is for roughly $1000, and the alleged debt was charged off by Household in May 2001. (The MN SoL is 6 years.) What I'm wondering is how responding to a Conciliation Court lawsuit differs from responding to a District Court lawsuit. Do I still need to file a Notice of Appearance and an Answer?

The Minnesota Conciliation Court website doesn't indicate anything of the kind, and in fact, it does seem to imply that the rules of civil procedure don't apply to Conciliation Court cases:

Your case may be removed to the district court for a new trial if you or the defendant are dissatisfied with the conciliation court judgment and all parties appeared at the conciliation court hearing. Default cases may not be removed. (This does not leave a defaulting party without recourse. See Pages 8-9 for vacation of judgment proceedings.)

Rules of civil procedure apply to cases removed to district court, where proceedings are more formal and more complex. Although it is not required, it is suggested that parties be represented by an attorney in district court.

So should I file an Answer and Appearance?

And should I now attempt to DV MRC Receivables? I haven't before this, and question 11 here says:

11. Did you request debt validation before the suit was filed? If not, don't bother doing this now.

Why shouldn't I bother doing this now? When should it be done?

One other note: As far as I know, this is our first contact with MRC Receivables, and with Messerli & Kramer. I read that, as of 2004, a Summons and Claim can serve as inital communication, requiring the CA to inform the debtor of his validation rights under sec. 1692g of the FDCPA within 5 days. Nothing meeting those requirements appears in the Claim and Summons form my wife received, and we have received no additional mailings yet.

I'm not sure what to do with this information, either. Will DVing MRC receivables undercut my claim that they haven't fulfilled 1692g? Thanks for letting me pick your brains on these few subjects.

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You should definitely file a response to the complaint, citing your defenses and whether or not you deny the claims. If the case is totally preposterous, and MN law allows it, you can also file an objection to the claim OR a motion to have the claim dismissed.

If you do either the objection or the motion for dismissal, you need to cite MN law to back it up.

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I talked to the Court Clerk today, and she said that no filings are necessary unless I believe I have a counterclaim. Notice of Appearance, Answer, and Affidavit of Service specifically are not required for the Defendant in Conciliation Court in Minnesota.

Since filing any of these would seem to help the CA by alerting them before the hearing to our actual defenses, I can't see a good reason to file them. The clerk said that Conciliation Court is open to the public, so I am going there next week to get a better idea of how our actual hearing will work. I'm still not sure how one goes about presenting case law to the judge. Do I need to not only cite the specific statute and section, but have a print out of it as well? I'll report back what I find out. (If anyone else has any experience in Minnesota Conciliation Court (or any Conciliation Court, I guess) feel free to add it to this thread!)

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