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How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Minnesota (2022 Guide)

George Simons | September 16, 2022

When you win your Minnesota debt collection case ^^

Summary: You have 21 days to respond to a Minnesota debt collection lawsuit before you lose by default. You should respond by filing a written Answer with the court. In the Answer document, reply to each claim listed in the Complaint and assert your affirmative defenses. Be sure to send a copy to the person or company suing you, too. You can use SoloSuit to create an Answer document in just 15 minutes.

Minnesota is a unique state when it comes to debt collection lawsuits. What makes it unique? Well, a lawsuit can be initiated simply by a debt collector serving a Summons and Complaint form on a defendant—often known as pocket filing. There is no legal requirement for a debt collector to file any formal document in court before serving someone with a lawsuit.

More specifically, Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 3.01 states:

“A civil action is commenced against each defendant:

(a) when the summons is served upon that defendant; or
(b) at the date of signing a waiver of service pursuant to Rule 4.05; or
(c) when the summons is delivered for service to the sheriff in the county where the defendant resides personally, by U.S. Mail (postage prepaid), by commercial courier with proof of delivery, or by electronic means consented to by the sheriff's office either in writing or electronically; but such delivery shall be ineffectual unless within 60 days thereafter the summons is actually served on that defendant or the first publication thereof is made.

Filing requirements are set forth in Rule 5.04, which requires filing with the court within one year after commencement for non-family cases.”

This means that when you get sued for debt in Minnesota, the creditor or debt collector suing you has up to a year to file the Summons in court. So, you probably won't see a case number on the Summons when you receive it, and calling the court clerk won't help much if the case hasn't been officially filed yet.

This can make responding to the lawsuit tricky.

Luckily, SoloSuit can help in your debt collection case. We have compiled important information to help you know what to expect when handling a debt collection lawsuit. The information below, will help you respond to a Summons and Complaint for debt collection in Minnesota.


Minnesota deadline for answering a debt collection Summons

Minnesota's Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12.01 states:

“Defendant shall serve an answer within 21 days after service of the summons upon that defendant unless the court directs otherwise pursuant to Rule 4.043. A party served with a pleading stating a cross-claim against that party shall serve an answer thereto within 21 days after the service upon that party.”

This means you only have 21 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Minnesota.

If you fail to file your Answer within 21 days, you are essentially raising the white flag of defeat and the court will probably enter a default judgment against you. Once the debt collector has that judgment, they have the right to garnish your wages and put liens on your property.

A Garnishment Summons Minnesota is sent to the debtor after a judgment has been entered, by court order, or before the case is heard and the 21 days to respond have passed. If you receive a garnishment Summons in MN, respond to it within the timeline given, detailing the funds the creditor should exempt from garnishment.

Click here to see what types of property and funds are exempt from garnishment in Minnesota.

Now, let's take a look at an example.

Example: Polly had a $790 debt with I.C Systems, which she had defaulted from paying one year ago. She received a Summons from I.C but failed to respond to it within 21 days. As I.C waited for the court day to get the default judgment, they sent a Minnesota Garnishment Summons to Polly. She called the bank to confirm they had also received the letter, and they advised her to respond to the letter within 25 days, or I.C would gain access to all her funds if she didn't list what should be exempted.


Lookout for a discovery request

If you are served with a Summons and Complaint form in Minnesota, examine both documents thoroughly and anything else included with the service of process. Why? Because there are instances a debt collection agency in Minnesota includes discovery requests with the Summons and Complaint. As a result, you must provide an Answer to the Complaint and respond to the discovery requests. The term “discovery request” is a legal term that means requesting for an answer to a specific question or a particular document to be produced.

It is extremely important to respond to discovery requests. If you file an Answer to the Complaint, but fail to respond to the discovery requests, it could harm the viability of your defense.

For example, if the Minnesota debt collection agency sends you a set of “Requests for Admission” and you fail to respond within 30 days, those requests are considered “admitted” under the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure. In effect, you would be admitting to the debt collection company's version of events. It is important to respond to the discovery requests to ensure you share your side of the story and enable the court to examine both sides.

Use Minnesota Answer to Summons forms

You can use SoloSuit's Answer Form to respond to a debt collection Summons in Minnesota. It only takes 15 minutes to fill out the form, which will include your responses to each allegation from the Complaint and affirmative defenses. Here's a sample of the SoloSuit Answer form:

Nevertheless, if you want to fill everything out on your own, you can use the following form from the Minnesota courts:

CIV302 - This document is Minnesota's general Answer form for civil lawsuits such as debt collection cases. Use it to respond to a debt collection Summons and Complaint.

Minnesota courts charge Answer filing fees

According to Minnesota debt collection laws, the courts charge an Answer filing fee. The fee amount varies by county and case type (regular civil vs small claims). The fee to file an Answer to a debt collection lawsuit in Minnesota ranges from $75-$300.

To find out the filing fee for your specific case, use Minnesota's Judicial Branch website. Use the dropdown menu under County to select the county in which you reside. Then, under Category, use the dropdown menu to select either Civil Action or Proceeding or Conciliation, depending on which type of case you have. The fee will be listed under the category “First Paper Filed” on the right side of the screen.

If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you have the option to request a fee waiver. To secure a fee waiver, you must fill out an application form and submit a copy to the court for consideration. You can qualify for a Minnesota fee waiver if you:

Receiving a fee waiver doesn't mean you will not pay any court fees. You must read the form carefully and note which court fees qualify for the waiver.

Follow these steps to respond to a debt collection case in Minnesota

If you have been served with a Summons and Complaint form in Minnesota for an alleged debt, do not assume the allegations contained in the Complaint are accurate. You have the legal right to contest the allegations in the Complaint. In other words, you can fight back and win.

When a debt collector sues you, you must get to work formulating a response. Ignoring the Minnesota Summons and Complaint form is not recommended since the plaintiff will receive a default judgment, as we discussed before.

Follow these four steps to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Minnesota:

  1. Create an Answer document.
  2. Respond to each allegation in the Complaint.
  3. Figure out if you can assert affirmative defenses.
  4. File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

Now, let's break down each of these four steps in detail. Don't like reading? Check out this video instead:

1. Create an Answer document

Before you start drafting your Answer, go through the Summons and Complaint to be sure you have all the information you'll need. The Summons notifies you of the lawsuit, and lists the parties involved in the case as well as the court that has jurisdiction over this case. The Complaint contains a list of the specific allegations, or claims, being made against you.

More specifically, the Summons and Complaint documents should contain the following, which you will need to draft your Answer document:

  • Defendant's first and last name (that's you)
  • Plaintiff's name (the creditor or debt collector suing you)
  • Plaintiff's attorney information
  • Physical address of both the defendant and the plaintiff
  • Court information, including which division the case is in and the court's address
  • Case number (if the case hasn't been filed in court yet, there will be no case number listed)
  • Debt amount

You can use SoloSuit's Answer form to compile all this information and format it in the correct, legal way. You can also fill out Minnesota's CIV302 Answer form with the information you find in the Summons and Complaint.

2. Respond to each allegation in the Complaint

Your Answer document should include responses to each allegation listed in the Complaint. Each paragraph in your Answer should correspond with the numbered paragraph from the Complaint. There are three responses you can provide to each allegation in the Minnesota Civil Complaint form:

  1. Admit—this is like saying, “This is true.”
  2. Deny—this is like saying, “Prove it.”
  3. Deny due to lack of knowledge—this is like saying, “I don't know.”

Most attorneys recommend that you deny as many allegations as you can. This gives you a stronger case, because it makes the debt collector or creditor do more work to prove their claims. If they don't have the necessary evidence to prove everything, they might even drop the case.

Respond to each allegation in the Complaint with SoloSuit's help—in just 15 minutes!

3. Determine whether you can assert an affirmative defense

There are certain affirmative defenses you can raise to challenge the validity or viability of the debt collector's lawsuit. An affirmative defense is any legal reason that the plaintiff should lose their case. Here are some examples:

  • Plaintiff lacks legal standing to bring suit: Lack of standing is a powerful defense. You can raise it when the debt collector has no legal basis for filing the lawsuit (there is no clear ownership of the debt or legal assignment of a debt to a debt collector). This is a fairly common defense in debt collection cases, especially when the debt has been sold and resold to multiple debt collectors.
  • Failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted: You can raise this defense if the plaintiff failed to cite a statute or the Complaint failed to state sufficient facts to constitute a viable cause of action.
  • Plaintiff filed the suit after the MN statute of limitations on debt collection had expired: The statute of limitations is the time period that a debt collector or creditor can sue someone for a debt. If the debt account has been inactive for six or more years in Minnesota, the statute of limitations has passed. You can assert that the debt collector failed to file the lawsuit within the applicable statutory time period. As a result, the lawsuit could be barred from moving forward.

There are dozens of common affirmative defenses you can use in a debt collection lawsuit. Each one will strengthen your case and increase your chances of winning.

Make the right affirmative defense the right way with SoloSuit.

4. File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff

Once you have completed your Answer, file it in the court. You can send your Answer in the mail or drop it off in person at the courthouse.

You should also serve a copy of the Answer to the attorney who is representing the debt collector or creditor suing you. Make sure you fill out a sworn statement ( affidavit of service or certificate of service) to substantiate when you served the Answer. You should have a second copy ready when the debt collection company formally files suit with a court.

SoloSuit can help you file your Answer in all 50 states.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James


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Minnesota's statute of limitations on debt is six years

In Minnesota, there is a statutory limitation placed on the time allowed for a creditor or debt collector to collect on an alleged outstanding debt. This time limit is known as the Minnesota debt collection statute of limitations.

Under Minnesota law, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for money owed due to a breach of contract is six years. This means that a creditor or debt collection company can only file a lawsuit against you within six years from the date of your last purchase or last payment. If, on the other hand, a debt collector waits too long and attempts to file a lawsuit after six years have elapsed, you can raise the MN statute of limitations on debt collection as an affirmative defense and have the case dismissed.


Minnesota Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

6

Written

6

Mortgage

6

Open

6

Credit Card

6

Judgment

10


Source: Findlaw


If you need help defending yourself in a debt collection lawsuit in Minnesota, there are organizations offering assistance at little-to-no-cost to Minnesota residents. These organizations include:

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
111 North Fifth Street
Suite 100
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Legal Services Advocacy Project
2324 University Avenue West
Suite 101
Midtown Commons
St. Paul, MN 55114

If you need assistance on how to best respond to a debt collection lawsuit, consider utilizing SoloSuit. What is SoloSuit? Take a moment to review these FAQs to learn more.

Find your Minnesota court location

There are ten judicial districts in Minnesota. Each district contains multiple trial courts comprising one or more of Minnesota's 87 counties. The district courts are categorized into the following districts:

  • First Judicial District – Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott, Sibley
  • Second Judicial District – Ramsey
  • Third Judicial District – Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Winona
  • Fourth Judicial District – Hennepin
  • Fifth Judicial District – Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock, Watonwan
  • Sixth Judicial District – Carlton, Cook, Lake, St. Louis
  • Seventh Judicial District – Becker, Benton, Clay, Douglas, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd, Wadena
  • Eighth Judicial District – Big Stone, Chippewa, Grant, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Wilkin, Yellow Medicine
  • Ninth Judicial District – Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau
  • Tenth Judicial District – Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Pine, Sherburne, Washington, Wright

Need to take a trip to your courthouse or call the court clerk for assistance? Use this court directory to find your courthouse and the clerk's phone number online.

Key Takeaways

In summary, here are the steps to take to respond to a Summons and Complaint for debt collection in Minnesota properly.

  • You have 21 days to respond in Minnesota.
  • Review the Summons and Complaint thoroughly to determine if the plaintiff included any Discovery Requests or other documents.
  • Prepare to pay an Answer filing fee anywhere from $75-$300, depending on which county you live in.
  • Create an Answer document that contains the same case information listed in the Summons and Complaint.
  • Respond to each claim listed in the Complaint document.
  • Research carefully to assess whether any affirmative defenses can be asserted to challenge the lawsuit.
  • File your Answer with the court, and send a copy to the plaintiff.

You can win your Minnesota debt lawsuit and get debt collectors off your back. Follow the steps listed throughout this article, and your chances of winning will increase. Good luck!

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