How to File a Civil Answer in Kings County Supreme Court

Melissa Lyken

March 10, 2021

You can respond to debt collectors and win.

Summary: Did you receive a summons and complaint for a lawsuit in Kings County Supreme Court? Find out how to respond and win in court.

Once a debtor is served with a summons and complaint, they must file an answer within the stipulated time frame. This period varies by state and the method used to serve the debtor. In New York, a debtor has 20 days to answer if they were served in person and 30 days if they were served in any other way.

The answer confirms whether you admit or deny the allegations and outlines any affirmative defenses you may have. Usually, debtors and other defendants charged with non-criminal matters file responses at Kings County Supreme Court, a courthouse established to help litigants who do not have an attorney and want to file an answer. An answer is only verified once the debtor files it in court and serves it to all parties. See below for more information on how to file a civil answer in Kings County Supreme Court.

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What You Need to Include in Your Answer to a Debt Collection Lawsuit

The Caption

This is the heading/title of the case and is usually at the top of the page. You must fill out the caption with your name and the plaintiff's just as they are written on the summons and complaint. Avoid changing anything on this section, even if your name is misspelled.

The form's right side features a case number assigned by the court's clerk and the pleading title. If the form doesn't have a case number, call the court to receive it. If you have one, consult your lawyer or the court to have the form assigned a number.

Your Responses to the Allegations in the Complaint

This is the section of the answer where you respond to the allegations set in the numbered paragraphs in the complaint. Your response should be in one of three forms: admit, deny, or deny for lack of knowledge.

It is the plaintiff's burden to prove anything that they are alleging in the complaint unless the defendant admits to the allegation. If you do not seek to fight your lawsuit, admitting to the statements in the lawsuit will usually result in judgment. If you are not aware of some facts of the case, state that you lack knowledge. For example, if the debt collection agency claims it's licensed and you don't know this to be accurate, you can state that you deny for lack of knowledge.

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Your Defenses Against the Plaintiff

This section allows you to list any legal or technical defenses in favor of the debtor. New York State law allows defendants to use more than one affirmative defense. You must ensure that you state the defenses in your answer to avoid losing this right. Some examples include:

  • The statute of limitations has expired
  • The plaintiff's legal standing
  • Improper service
  • Identity Theft or Mistaken Identity

Your Address and Signature

Your name, email, and address are usually included at the top of the Answer, while your signature is on the last page of the form. Write the date, your name, and legal signature and ensure your name is legible. If the creditor sued you and your spouse, you must sign both names.

Three Methods for Filing a Civil Answer

A debtor can use either of the following three methods to file an answer. Your choice usually depends on how you were served. For example, if you receive an e-filing notice, you must file the answer online via the New York State Court's e-filing system (NYSCEF). See below for a detailed overview of each of the three methods.

E-file an Answer on NYSCEF

Since the New York State Electronic Filing System is available for all state housing cases, so you're not restricted to filing an answer in a particular courthouse. However, you must confirm whether the case is available on the website by visiting http://www.nycourts.gov/efile.

Once you enter the NYSCEF website, you can create an account for the system if you're a new user or a returning user who is e-filing a new case. If you already have an account/case, log into the website and go through the checklist to verify whether your case is ready for e-filing on the NYSCEF system.

It's important to note that the NYSCEF system doesn't create the court papers for defendants, so you will need to upload the finished document. If you haven't uploaded them and need the forms or further information, visit http://nycourts.gov/courthelp/ for help.

Next, print the documents, make two copies, sign, and include the date on each form. You will want to ensure that your chosen delivery method will ensure the plaintiff receives your answer before the expiry of the deadline, which is 20 days from the summons and complaint date.

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Mail Your Answer to the Clerk and Plaintiff

If you mail the document, you must send it at least seven days before the deadline. It will help if you ask the post office for tracking and delivery confirmation. Print the documents, make two copies, sign, and include the date on each form. You will want to ensure that your chosen delivery method will ensure the plaintiff receives your answer before the expiry of the deadline, which is 20 days from the summons and complaint date.

Answer the Allegations In-Person

You can also present a written answer at Kings County Supreme Court in-person. If undertaking this option, you should avoid waiting until the last minute to file the answer. Keep in mind that the court doesn't permit people to enter the courthouse right away due to health and safety requirements.

Once you file the answer, the court will provide a date for a virtual conference with the judge. If you can't attend, you can call the court to reschedule the meeting.

Requirements for Filing the Answer

  • Fill out the original copy and make three extra copies.
  • Send the original copy to the Supreme Court's clerk, a copy to the judge, another to the plaintiff or their attorney, and keep a copy for yourself. Ensure the clerk date-stamps all the copies.
  • Pay the filing fee via the clerks of the Supreme Court. If you can't afford the filing fee, you can request a waiver or deferral. Applications for fee waivers are free.

With this insight, you should be able to confidently file your answer in Kings County New York's Supreme Court.

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How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

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