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Got a summons and haven't a clue where to start...

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Hello all, I browsed a bit of this forum but still found the task before me quite daunting.

My mother is being sued by Target National Bank and represented by Patenaude & Felix. We live in California and have a week left to respond to the summons.

I'm quite overwhelmed and I'm adept usually at complicated things, her, not so much...

Anyways, I'm looking for a shove in the right direction. So far what I got is answering the summons with a general denial and counter-claim for is good, but then again, we're dealing with the original creditor (Target), and not someone else that bought it. What if they really have proof (or do they count on that 95% who don't respond to summons and the other 4% who mess up in the process that they don't bother with proof?)?

Can anyone advise me?

Also, while reading though some of the threads I saw acronyms, some I was able to infer, others I wasn't, so if you use it for the first time a definition would be appreciated.

I appreciate any help you may be able to provide. :)

EDIT: Also, if you have any questions that will help, feel free to ask! Also, it's important to note that on two different occasions employees of Target who called said not to bother sending anything in. Isn't their denial of payment considered it paid in full? Then again we'd admit to having the debt and if that defense didn't work we'd be stuck there too. And was thinking about filing "APPLICATION FOR WAIVER OF COURT FEES AND COSTS" today. I would assume doing so would not waive the right to file a motion to quash improper summons and to dismiss (still need to check that code for sure – but they did not leave it with someone who didn't identify themselves as my mom and they never said what the general nature of the papers were, although, I could be mixing up state codes now).

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