Complaint and Summons in South Dakota
When you are served with a Complaint and Summons in South Dakota, you have a certain amount of time to respond or there could be dire consequences. If you don’t respond, a Court can agree with the facts in the Complaint and find you in default. You then have a judgment against you and the party against you can try to collect on that judgment through various avenues. In general, judgments can be enforced against you for 20 years.
Default judgments, however, are considered “extreme” remedies and should only be entered against defendants who are essentially unresponsive. But what does “responding to a Complaint” really include? In South Dakota, a plaintiff cannot get a default judgment if the defendant attempted to “otherwise defend” the lawsuit or even informally appear in the case.
Default judgments can be set aside under certain circumstances including excusable neglect, mistake, inadvertence, surprise. Reasons to set aside also include fraud and misrepresentation; the judgment is void, released, satisfied or discharged; or for any other “just” reason that can be argued. If a party wants to set aside a judgment, however, the party generally cannot wait long. They must file their motion to set the judgment aside within a “reasonable” time and not more than one year after the order of judgment was entered.
The fact of the matter is this: Do NOT ignore a lawsuit. Even if a lawsuit is nerve-racking and stressful, you need to respond and defend yourself before it’s too late.
In a case last year, we were successful at setting aside a default judgment for an out-of-state defendant when we were able to show the Court that the defendant had sent a letter to the plaintiff stating arguments against the lawsuit. Thereafter, there was improper notice of the intent of the plaintiff to seek default judgment and good cause to set aside the judgment. The case was later dismissed because there was a lack of jurisdiction over the defendant.
Do you have a judgment against you that could be set aside? If you are served with a lawsuit or have a default judgment against you, talk to the trial attorneys at Goosmann Law Firm, PLC, in our Omaha, Sioux City, or Sioux Falls offices to review the lawsuit and respond in a timely manner.