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What Is Summary Judgment?

Chloe Meltzer | December 02, 2022

Legal Expert
Chloe Meltzer, MA

Chloe Meltzer is an experienced content writer specializing in legal content creation. She holds a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University, complemented by a Master’s in Marketing from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Did a debt collector sue you over on an old debt? Are you being told there was a summary judgment? Do you need to file for a summary judgment of your own? Find out all you need to know about summary judgments here.

If you are being brought to court for debt, it means that you are being sued for not paying it. When it comes to a trial, there are typically two discussions.

The first is determining which law applies to your situation, and whether or not it should be enforced upon your situation based on the facts of the case. Ultimately, the result of any trial is decided by a judge after all testimony has been presented and examined.

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What is summary judgment?

In many debt lawsuits rather than go to court, sometimes there is a motion of summary judgment. Rather than both sides agreeing that you owe the debt, this occurs if you do not feel that you should pay it. In this instance rather than go through a lawsuit, you can ask the creditor or debt collector to prove your responsibility. Should they not believe that there is anything to dispute, they will file a motion for a summary judgment which will give you a much quicker response. When a summary judgment motion occurs it usually has four parts.

Part 1: Facts

The beginning of a summary judgment lawsuit includes the debt collector or creditor simply presenting the facts as they see them. Typically this will include photos or documents to prove your responsibility for the debt. It may also include signed statements from yourself or other evidence. This is specifically to back up their statements about your owing the debt.

Part 2: Discuss the legalities

The next step involves the legalities of the case. The opposing side will write up a memorandum. This should explain the case and statutes of similar cases that have been prosecuted. In this part, the opposing side will try to convince the judge that legally they should win the case automatically.

Part 3: Argument

The final part of a summary judgment motion gives you the chance to argue your case. The opposing side will attempt to correct your argument and prove that you are not correct, but even if you are, that you do not deserve to win. They might bring up old cases and showcase how regardless of the argument you make, you legally lose the case. You will get the chance to respond to this and showcase how the debt collector is wrong, or if there is other evidence that might back up your claim.

Part 4: Decision

After all papers and supporting evidence have been submitted, the judge will look at all of the evidence and the paperwork. The judge will also grant a motion or deny it. There are a few options, either siding with the plaintiff due to their arguments being correct, or siding with you, the defendant. Should they believe that your version of the facts is correct, then the motion for summary judgment is denied. Should they side with the debt collector or creditor, a summary judgment will be placed against you.

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What to consider when applying for a summary judgment

Although you might think a summary judgment means avoiding going to court, there are a few things to consider when applying for one. It is not necessarily a slam dunk, even if you believe you shouldn't pay the debt.

Making a summary judgment application often results in a delay. This can also lead to additional costs for you. You may need to pay more court fees, and the proceedings will be suspended until the case has been heard. Typically the one who applies for the summary judgment will suffer consequences if they do not win.

Additionally, it is important to realize the true risk involved. Even if the application is unsuccessful, it may bring you some extra time. This can be an advantage because the other side will need to put time and money into the case. They may also need to produce evidence earlier than they planned.

If the defendant requires more time to investigate, then the court is not able to grant a summary judgment. This is important to note because if your case is complex you may not be able to go through this process. Should the other side be bringing the summary judgment case to you, then this can also be a good defense to push it to a normal trial.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

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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"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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