The Florida court rules for answering a credit card suit summons – and by extension, the complaint – are located in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. In addition to the rules of procedure, But there are other things that you must know before responding to the complaint and summons. The summons is the document by which you are served the complaint. The complaint is the document that the plaintiff – the credit card company in this case – files against you in a lawsuit.
The answer to the summons, according to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, must be written in short and plain terms. When writing the answer, you only need to admit or deny each allegation. Set up the pleading (your answer) in the same manner that the plaintiff set up the complaint. Copy the heading, which includes the court, its jurisdiction, the plaintiff’s name, your name – you are the defendant – and the case number. Florida also requires that the court division be included in the heading. Some counties include the division as part of the case number, but most list it separately.
If one of the allegations includes something that is true and something that is not, write “Admitted as to [part that is true]. All other allegations denied.” This is commonly used in jurisdictional allegations, such as “The Plaintiff has offices in [county, state], and has jurisdiction in [county, state].” You would write “Admitted for jurisdictional purposes only. All other allegations denied.”
Write the affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses are statements as to why the plaintiff cannot or should not bring this lawsuit against you. The plaintiff credit card company must provide a copy of the original contract between you and itself, attached to the complaint. If not, one of your affirmative defenses should be that no copy of the contract was provided. Other affirmative defenses include you settled the matter via arbitration, the credit card balance was discharged in bankruptcy, or you paid the balance. Legal defenses include fraud, an illegal contract or the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations depends on the contract with the credit card company, but is typically four to five years for credit cards.
Failure to Deny
If you do not deny the plaintiff’s allegations in your answer, the court presumes that you admit the allegations. Thus, if you do not file an answer, the clerk will enter a default against you, and the plaintiff credit card company will receive a judgment against you. If you answer partially, whichever allegations you do not deny will be accepted in favor of the plaintiff.
When a credit card company sues you, do not wait until the last minute to take action. You should retain an attorney, but if you cannot afford an attorney, file an answer as soon as you can. If you read the summons, you will see that you have 20 days to file a response. If you cannot afford an attorney and do not understand the allegations contained in the complaint, ask the clerk to direct you to the self-help department.