Top 3 Worst Reasons To Ignore Your Summons

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The attorneys at the Law Offices of Daniel T. Goodwin have handled a lot of pre-trial conferences and mediation efforts in civil cases. We’ve watched Defendants stand up in court, unrepresented, and plead their case. We’ve had conversations with Defendants who call our offices hoping to negotiate a settlement. So, We’ve heard every kind of excuse about why a Defendant thinks that they are not required to respond to a Summons and Complaint.

These excuses can range from the heartbreaking (“I’ve had a *really* bad run of luck and the Plaintiff should cut me some slack”) to the expected (“It’s someone else’s fault” or “I don’t have any money to pay”) to the bizarre (“This is all part of a government-led conspiracy to ruin me”).  One of the most frequent “excuses” that we hear, however, is that the Summons and Complaint were not properly served. Rarely is the excuse valid.

There appears to be a widespread misconception in the public about what will stand as proper service and what will get a Defendant (at least temporarily) out of the courts. Here are the top three arguments I’ve heard that service was improper and the reason that these will fail most people in Colorado:

  • “I know the person who served me”/”I don’t know the person who served me”

The only restrictions in Colorado regarding the person serving the Summons and Complaint are that they be over the age of 18 and that they not be a party to the action. You may get served by a Sheriff’s deputy, a professional process server, or just an adult friend of the Plaintiff. As long as they are over 18 and not a party, you will need to respond to the Summons and Complaint.

  • “They left the papers with someone else”

You do not need to be personally handed the Summons and Complaint in Colorado. You will be considered “personally served” if the legal papers are left at your home with a family member over the age of 18. You will also be considered “personally served” if the papers are left at your place of work with your boss, secretary, HR department, or any number of other co-workers. Special rules apply to Defendants between the ages of 13-18.

  • “I just refused to take the documents”

Colorado recognizes “service by refusal”. If you refuse to accept the papers, and the process server has reason to identify you as the proper Defendant, they merely need to state what they are serving and leave the papers behind in a conspicuous place. You’ve just been served.

Failure to respond to a Summons and Complaint is a dangerous game. If you have been properly served, a default judgment may be entered against you fail to show up in court. Any defenses or counterclaims that you may have had may be forever lost. If you have been served post-judgment documents such as Interrogatories or a Subpoena, your failure to show up in court may result in a contempt citation, or even a bench warrant, being issued against you.

If you have been served legal documents in a civil matter and need help responding, contact our Civil Litigation Team today.

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