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Obtaining Relief from Default Judgments under North Carolina Law

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The North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure require a defendant in a civil lawsuit to file an answer or other responsive pleading, such as a motion to dismiss, within thirty days after service of a complaint and summons. If you do not timely respond or contact the plaintiff’s counsel, the plaintiff may move for entry of default and default judgment against you. If that judgment is obtained, the defendant may receive a “Notice of Right to Designate Exemptions,” which begins the process of attempting to collect the judgment against you. You may be able to fight a default judgement if you move quickly. Call the Raleigh civil litigation attorneys of Maginnis Law at (919) 526-0450 to discuss how we might assist you.

Our firm recently represented an individual who obtained a set aside of a default judgment on a credit card bill that he paid in full. After filing a lawsuit against the credit card company, the credit reporting agency, and the collection agency pursuing the debt, our client obtained almost $40,000.00 for the emotional distress and damage to his credit stemming from the improper judgment.

North Carolina Civil Procedure

The North Carolina Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) allows relief from a default judgment. In their sole discretion, this rule allows a judge to set aside a default judgment in situations involving, among other things: mistake, inadvertence, surprise, misrepresentation, fraud, or excusable neglect. There is also a “catch-all” provision in Rule 60(b). This states that a judge can grant relief for “any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.” Courts often cite this language when imposing a considerable default judgment would be inequitable.

While Rule 60(b) motions are not always successful, they are a relatively inexpensive option for dealing with a default judgment. Before paying a default judgment, contact the Raleigh civil litigation attorneys of Maginnis Law for a free consultation. Our lawyers are experienced in arguing Rule 60(b) motions and can evaluate and discuss whether your case may prove successful.

Protection Under Federal Law

Importantly, if you have had a default judgment set aside or paid that judgment off, you should also pull your credit report and dispute the entry relating to your judgment if it does not correctly show the status of your case. A failure by the credit reporting agency to correct the judgment disposition can violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It can allow you to recover statutory damages, actual damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees. Contact our firm for assistance if this issue has come up for you.

As a small law firm, Maginnis Law can work under various billing arrangements, including flat rates and hourly. We regularly represent clients across the state, and we have offices in Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Charlotte. To speak with one of our civil litigation lawyers, contact us at (919) 526-0450. You may also submit confidential email inquiries using our contact page.