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How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Oregon (2023 Guide)

Hannah Locklear | December 29, 2023

Fact-checked by George Simons, J.D.

Summary: You have 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Oregon circuit court and 14 days in small claims court. You must pay a fee to file your Answer document into the case. Use SoloSuit to make your Answer and have it filed for you in minutes.

Getting sued by debt collectors is no one's favorite pastime. But, in this article we will try to ease the pain and make the process of responding to the lawsuit a little bit easier. We will show you how to answer a summons for debt collection in Oregon.

Before we begin, rest assured: you can fight and win your debt collection lawsuit.

This article covers important topics that will help you respond to your debt collection lawsuit in Oregon, including deadlines, filing fees, forms, and what your response should include.

Let's get right to it.

Oregon deadline to Answer a debt collection summons

It's important to respond to your debt collection lawsuit before your state's deadline. If you fail to respond in time, you risk losing by default. This means that the person or company suing you can request a default judgment against you, and if granted by the court, they will have the right to garnish your wages and seize your property to get the debt paid back.

Don't let this happen to you. Respond to your debt collection lawsuit before the Oregon deadline.

Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 7 C(2) states:

Time for response. If the summons is served by any manner other than publication, the defendant shall appear and defend within 30 days from the date of service. If the summons is served by publication pursuant to subparagraph D(6)(a)(i) of this rule, the defendant shall appear and defend within 30 days from the date stated in the summons. The date so stated in the summons shall be the date of the first publication.”

This means that, generally, you have 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Oregon.

If your lawsuit is a Small Claims case (no lawyer involved and amount claimed is less than $10,000), then you have 14 days to respond.

Use an Oregon Answer to Summons form

To respond to your debt collection lawsuit, you need to make an Answer document that responds to the Summons and Complaint you received.

The fastest and easiest way to do this is to use SoloSuit's Answer form to respond to your lawsuit. You can fill out your Answer on SoloSuit's website in just 15 minutes for free.

Here's what it looks like.

Oregon courts also provide some helpful forms. Check them out below:

Use one of these forms to create your response to the debt collection lawsuit, but you will have to fill it out by yourself. You can also take a look at these other forms provided by Oregon Courts. Oregon also provides an eFiling option, but we didn't think it was easy to use.

Oregon courts charge an Answer filing fee

Oregon courts charge a filing fee to file your Answer with them. We know, it's pretty messed up—you get sued for a debt and you have to pay a fee just to respond, even if you don't actually owe it. If you wanted to sound like a lawyer you'd say, “that's unconscionable!” But pay you must.

Here's how the fees break down, according to the Oregon Judicial Department Fee Schedule:

Small Claims fees:

  • $57 fee for cases involving less than $2,500
  • $102 fee for cases involves $2,500-$10,000

Regular Civil fees

  • $170 fee for cases involving less than $10,000
  • $283 fee for cases involving $10,000-$50,000
  • $594 fee for cases involves $50,000-$1M
Oregon has some of the highest filing fees in the country. Looks like the courts need to do a little more yoga and chill out.

Let's consider an example to understand how Answer filing fees apply.

Example: Tim is sued for $1,000 in small claims court in Oregon. Since the amount in controversy is less than $2,500, Tim needs to pay the $57 filing fee. If Tim was being sued for the same amount, but the case was filed in the circuit court, he would have to pay $170 to file his Answer.

If you can't afford to pay the filing fee, you can fill out the Oregon courts fee waiver application. If you can prove that paying the filing fee would cause financial burden, the court will likely excuse you from paying the fee.

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

A lawsuit begins when you receive the Summons and Complaint. The Summons notifies you of the case, while the Complaint lists the specific claims being made against you. Once you receive these documents, your clock starts ticking and you need to respond or you will lose your case automatically.

To respond to a Summons and Complaint in Oregon, you need to create an Answer document.

There are three steps to responding to a debt collection lawsuit.

  1. Respond to each allegation listed in the complaint.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses.
  3. File the Answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

Now, let's explore each step. Don't like reading? Check out this video instead:

SoloSuit can help you increase your chances of winning by 7x.

1. Respond to each allegation listed in the Complaint

Next, you need to respond to every paragraph of the Complaint. The Complaint includes several numbered paragraphs that lay out the lawsuit against you. For debt collection cases, there are usually between 10 and 30 numbered paragraphs. Read each paragraph and decide how you want to respond. You can only respond in three ways:

  • Admit: Admit the claim if you agree with everything in the paragraph.
  • Deny: Deny the claim if you disagree with anything in the paragraph.
  • Deny due to lack of knowledge: This is a lawyerly way of saying “I don't know.” Choose this option if you don't understand the claim or if you don't have the information needed to respond to it.

Choose one of these responses and write it into your Answer after the corresponding paragraph number.

Many attorneys recommend making a general denial, where you deny everything in the Complaint and force the other side to prove everything. This is a good strategy in many cases.

Answer a debt collection lawsuit in minutes with SoloSuit.

2. Assert your affirmative defenses

Once you've responded to each claim, you are ready to assert your affirmative defenses.

An “affirmative defense” is a reason why the person suing you doesn't have a case; it is your defense against the lawsuit. You must list these defenses in your Answer otherwise, you can't bring them up later.

That's right, asserting your affirmative defenses is a once in a lifetime opportunity: if you don't bring them up now, you are legally prohibited from bringing them up later. Many online forms don't help you assert your affirmative defenses, SoloSuit does.

According to Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 19(B) states:

Affirmative defenses. In pleading to a preceding pleading, a party shall set forth affirmatively: accord and satisfaction; arbitration and award; assumption of risk; claim preclusion; comparative or contributory negligence; discharge in bankruptcy; duress; estoppel; failure of consideration; fraud; illegality; injury by fellow servant; issue preclusion; laches; license; payment; release; statute of frauds; statute of limitations; unconstitutionality; waiver; and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense.”

These are all the fancy, legal names for the different types of affirmative defenses you can include in your Answer.

Here are some of the more common defenses we see in debt collection cases (in simplified language):

  • The account with the debt is not your account.
  • The contract was already canceled. Therefore you don't owe the creditor anything.
  • The statute of limitations has expired. A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline on an action. Below, we break down the the statute of limitations in Oregon.
  • The debt has been paid or excused.
  • The debt has been partially paid.
  • You were a co-signer but were not informed of your rights as a co-signer.

These are a few of the many affirmative defenses. Being unable to pay the debt is not normally a legal defense to the debt.

Make the right affirmative defense the right way with SoloSuit.

3. File the Answer with the court and serve the plaintiff

Once you have responded to the paragraphs in the Complaint and asserted your affirmative defenses, you are ready for the final step: file your Answer.

The Answer document by itself is worthless unless you file it properly. Otherwise, it's like doing homework and not turning it in. SoloSuit takes care of this for you so you don't have to worry about buying a printer and figuring out whether you need Certified Mail or Priority Mail at the Post Office.

You can speed up the filing process by filing your Answer electronically. Oregon has a statewide court e-filing system. It can be confusing to navigate the e-filing system, but SoloSuit has it all figured out and can file your Answer in minutes.

If you prefer to mail your Answer in, here's what you need to do to file your Answer.

  • Print two copies of your Answer.
  • Mail one copy to the court.
  • Mail the other copy to the plaintiff's attorney.

The address for the attorney will be in the Summons and Complaint you received in the mail. But where is the address for the Court? Good question—most Summons don't list the address of the Court. And the mailing address is often different from the physical address of the court listed on Google. That's why we've taken the time to call every court in Oregon and find the mailing address for you. They are listed below.

Once you complete this final step: Congrats! You have successfully responded to your debt lawsuit.

SoloSuit can file your Answer for you 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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Statute of Limitations on Debt in Oregon

The statute of limitations is the time period that a debt collector or creditor has to sue someone for a debt they owe. If the statute of limitations on a debt is expired, then you can bring up the expiration as a winning defense in the even that you get sued.

According to Oregon's Procedure in Civil Proceedings, §12.080 states:

Action on certain contracts or liabilities. (1) An action upon a contract or liability, express or implied . . . shall be commenced within six years.”

This means that the statute of limitations on debt in Oregon is typically six years. So, if your last payment on a debt was six years ago, you cannot be taken to court for it. That being said, some types of debts have other limitations.

The table below outlines the statute of limitations on different types of debts in Oregon:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Oregon

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 6 years
Medical 6 years
Student Loan 6 years
Auto Loan 6 years
Personal Loan 6 years
Mortgage 10 years
Judgment 10 years
Source: ORS § 12.050, § 12.070, and § 12.080

Regardless of the debt's statute of limitations, creditors will still try to sue you beyond the deadline and many succeed. Remember that in order to avoid being held responsible for the debt, you'll still need to mention the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in your Answer.

If you start making payments on an old debt that has already passed the statute of limitations, the clock will restart and you may be taken to court for it. Because of this, you should always check the last activity on your debt account and your state's statute of limitations before agreeing to any payment plans.

Every state has at least one government-funded organization that provides free legal services to people. Oregon has a couple:

Legal Aid Services of Oregon
520 SW Sixth Avenue, Ste 1130
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 224-4094

Oregon Law Help
Find your office by county

Public Benefits Hotline

Oregon court mailing addresses

To file your Answer, you need to get it to your court. For many people, the easiest way to do this is to mail it. But it can be surprisingly difficult to find the mailing address for your court online. So we've compiled a list of nearly all Oregon courts and their addresses, court clerk information, and more.

Use our Oregon courts page to find more information on your courthouse.

Key Takeaways

So, here's the review on how to answer a Summons for debt collection in Oregon.

  • You have 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Oregon. If your case is in Oregon Small Claims court, you have 14 days to respond.
  • You can use SoloSuit's Answer form to respond to your Oregon debt case in minutes.
  • Oregon circuit courts charge a fee to file your Answer: $170 for cases with less than $10,000 in question, $283 for cases between $10,000 and $50,000, and $594 for cases with more than $50,000 in question.
  • You must respond with a written Answer document in which you reply to each claim listed in the Complaint and assert your affirmative defenses.
  • File your Answer in the court and send a copy to the plaintiff's attorney.
  • The statute of limitations on debt in Oregon is 6 years.

We hope this guide has been helpful, and we wish you the best of luck with your court case!

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