If you think you’ve been sued, but you’re not sure and you haven’t kept track of your paperwork, you’ll want to make sure you find and list all the necessary information. There’s no easy way to do this, but leaving the question blank on your bankruptcy forms is appropriate only after you’ve done your research and confirmed that no creditor lawsuit has been filed against you.
Creditor Lawsuits State Court Actions
Creditor lawsuits are civil suits filed in state courts and each state has its own names for their lower courts. Some of the names are:
- justice court
- small claims court
- civil court
- superior court
- supreme court
- court of common pleas
- justice of the peace court
And that’s why you can’t use PACER to find the information. PACER is only for federal cases. It will not help with this.
If you have any documents from the lawsuit, the court’s name will be on it. Typically, on the first page near the top. The creditors name, their attorney, and the case number should also appear on the document, but if it’s not obvious what’s what, you can call the court to find out the information you’re looking for.
From there, it’ll be easy enough to find the contact information for the court clerk on the court’s website and give them a call. Even if you don’t have any documents, if you think a creditor lawsuit has been filed against you, call your state court to find out for sure.
What to ask the court when you call
Speak to someone in the clerk’s office. Explain that you believe you’re the defendant in a lawsuit filed against you and are looking to find out more information. Ideally, if you have it, provide them with the case number. If you don’t have a case number because you found no paperwork connected to the lawsuit, they’ll have to try and look you up by name.
If they find a case pending or previously pending against you, ask them the following questions:
- Who was the plaintiff (i.e. who’s the creditor that sued you) and what’s their address?
- What’s their attorneys name, mailing address and phone number?
- What’s the case number?
- What is the official name & address of the court?
- What is the status of the case? If a judgment has been entered, ask for the date of the judgment.
The next step will be to call (or look up) the creditor’s attorney. You need to make sure they’re listed as an additional party to be notified of your bankruptcy. While speaking with their office, also ask them to provide you with a mailing address for their client (the creditor) if the court didn’t have one, and make sure you get an updated balance owed to put on your schedules.
IMPORTANT: It’s very important to list the creditor’s lawyer on your bankruptcy paperwork. The lawyer is the one that will have to take quick action to stop the lawsuit against you once the bankruptcy case has been filed.