If you’ve been sued for foreclosure in Florida and do not provide discovery or other requirements as required by law, you may find yourself reading a motion to compel. A motion to compel is a request in which the court orders you to provide discovery or other requirements that have been requested. Once a motion to compel has been filed by the plaintiff, the court will set a hearing that you must attend. If you continue to ignore the requests, you will be served with an order to show cause. You must attend that hearing and explain to the court why you have not complied with the plaintiff’s requests.
Ignoring the Court
If you continue to ignore the court and the requests, even after an order to show cause, the court may hold you in contempt and sanction you. Sanctions may include a fine, or in rare cases, jail time.
If the plaintiff serves you with interrogatories — a form of discovery — you must respond within 30 days. If you do not respond, the plaintiff will file a motion to compel your responses.
Request for Admissions
A request for admissions is another form of discovery. If you refuse to respond to the request, the plaintiff will file a motion to compel your responses.
Documents and Depositions
Depositions may be verbal or may only require that you produce certain documents. Both are a form of discovery that foreclosure plaintiffs use to gather information about your finances. If you do not respond to the request, or in the case of a verbal deposition, you do not show up at the deposition, and continue to ignore the motion to compel, you could also be sanctioned.
Time to Respond
Most discovery requests must give you 30 days to respond. If you are served with a motion to compel, the 30 days — and usually additional time — have expired. The plaintiff’s counsel files a motion to compel to ask the court to order you to provide discovery. The attorney who drafts the motion to compel chooses the time to respond, and includes it within the motion to compel. Once you attend the hearing, if the plaintiff wins, the court enters an order on the motion to compel. The order includes the time you have to provide responses or schedule a deposition. The attorney may ask for as little as 10 days or as much as 30 days.
If you attend the motion to compel hearing and explain that some of the documents are not in your possession, but you are in the process of obtaining the documents, and can show that you are obtaining the documents, the court may grant the plaintiff’s motion to compel. The court may use its discretion to change the plaintiff’s request for 10 days to a date the court thinks you may be able to procure the documents.
Provision of Documents
Once you obtain the documents, draft a notice of filing documents. Describe the documents you are providing, but only file the notice with the court. Send a copy of the notice, along with the documents, to the plaintiff or his attorney, if he has an attorney. Be sure the plaintiff o r his attorney acknowledges receipt of your documents.
If you were not able to procure all documents requested, explain that in a cover letter to the attorney or plaintiff, and be sure to include a date for when you expect to come into possession of the documents. If you have a letter stating that a specific entity will take a certain number of days to provide the documents, and that time is more than the time the court gave you to respond, include a copy of that letter, so that the plaintiff knows that you are making a good faith effort to obtain the documents.