How to read a Summons in a foreclosure case
Authored By: Empire Justice Center
- Read this in:
- Spanish / Español
If you received a summons and complaint in a foreclosure action, here’s what the summons is telling you.
In any lawsuit, the plaintiff is the party bringing the case to court. In a foreclosure case, the plaintiff is the legal entity that owns your mortgage. This will often be your bank’s name.
Sometimes, however, your bank will have placed your loan in a trust. When this happens, the named plaintiff is the name of the trust holding your mortgage.
This is the named owner of the property. Typically, this will be you.
You will often see other names of defendants. Some of these may look familiar to you, but others may not.
When a bank begins a foreclosure, they want to make sure they have named all possible defendants. Often times, this results in parties that have no relation to the property being named as defendants.
Index number and date filed
This is the case information that the courthouse uses to file and identify cases.
The index number is your case number and the date is the date the document was filed.
Below the index number
This is the title of the document. The title tells you what type of court paper you have received.
In this case, you have received a summons. The title is usually in all caps.
Below the document title
The place of trial tells you the court in which the case will be heard. In general, the place of trial, also known as case jurisdiction, is designated by the plaintiff and based on geographic location.
Below the case jurisdiction
Remember, the plaintiff in a foreclosure case is the bank or another lender. This is the address of the bank or lending company. You may see an out of state address listed here. This is normal, especially if your mortgage was sold to another bank or lender.
Do NOT use this address to send any documents to the bank.
YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED
After the words, “YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED,” is the action you need to take.
In this example, you need to answer (respond to) the bank’s complaint (which should be sent with the summons) and then deliver your answer to the plaintiff’s lawyers.
This guide will show you how to fill out an Answer, file it with the court and serve the bank.
How much time you have
This part of the summons tells you how long you have to answer the complaint and serve the bank’s lawyers.
If you were served in person, you have 20 calendar days to answer.
If you were not served in person, you have 30 calendar days to answer.
What happens if you don’t take action
This part says that if you do not answer the complaint, you still get a settlement conference but if the settlement conference is unsuccessful, then the court will let the bank move forward with the foreclosure.
If you respond with an Answer, however, the court will hear your legal arguments as to why the bank should or should not be allowed to proceed with the foreclosure case.