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Judgement without service- MA


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Hi All,

    I've recently discovered that I was sued and had a judgement issued against me nearly a year and a half ago. I found out because I was denied a student loan due to "adverse credit" and when I checked it out, I discovered that I had  judgement issued against me. I'm just trying to figure out what to do next.

    A little bit of background- I am an American living overseas. I've been overseas since 2000. I have no assets and no income in the US. Someday I think I'd like to return to the US, and I think my life will be easier if I have decent credit when that time comes.


1. Who is the named plaintiff in the suit?
American Express (credit card company sued me- they didn't sell the debt.)

2. What is the name of the law firm handling the suit? (should be listed at the top of the complaint.)
Zwicker and Associates

3. How much are you being sued for?
Original debt 8500, plus ~ 1k in fees and such.

5. How do you know you are being sued? (You were served, right?)
I was never served. I lived in Australia at the time that I was supposedly served!

My Australian address is on file with all three credit agencies. I have drawn student loans while living at my Australian address, and also made payments on those loans. I tried to change my address several times with AMEX and was told that they can't accept overseas addresses. That was a long, long time ago and I don't have any written records to that effect.

6. How were you served? (Mail, In person, Notice on door)
The court record says "officer service". Does that mean a person supposedly delivered the documents to me? Physically?

7. Was the service legal as required by your state?
I don't think so. But I'd love to hear what people think.



Of course, I didn't recieve any documents after the judgement either, so I first discovered this on a credit report.


So, based on my limited understanding of collections law, I don't think I was properly served, and the court where the judgement was issued shouldn't have had jurisdiction over this case. I could file a motion to vacate the judgement, but my understanding is that I would have to be physically present in order to do that- is that right?


I guess another option would be to try and pay for dismissal, but I'm interested in hearing any thoughts about this somewhat unusal situation.


thanks for your help


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If you were outside the country when the service supposely took place, then of course you weren't personally served, but perhaps your state allows a summons to be left at the door.  If so, they could have done that at your last known address.  Also, some states allow service by publication (in the newspaper).  But being out of the country might affect that type of service, as well.


You need to find out how they claim you were served.  That information would be in your file at the court.  If they claim you were personally served, you can definitely prove you weren't.  It would then be a matter of whether or not it's been too long to get the judgment vacated.


If it were me, I'd contact an attorney and explain the situation.  He could tell you if you have grounds to get the judgment vacated.  If you were to hire an attorney, he could appear for you.  However, depending upon the amount of the judgment, it might cost just as much to hire an attorney as it would be to settle with AmEx.

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