Do I need to be served personally with a summons and complaint?

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Do I need to be served personally with a summons and complaint?

Also the complaint does not have a case number, date or a judge listed. Only the county and court district I live in. The summons says “I will lose my case if I do not send an answer”. I’ve been told to dispute the service of the complaint and to dispute everything but my name and address. If they can’t provide proof I owe then the judgement will be dismissed. Is any of this true? In MN.

Asked on April 5, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Minnesota


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Usually personal service is the method for serving a summons and complaint.  It is possible that you could be served by notice and acknowledgment of receipt which means that the summons and complaint were sent by mail with a form for you to sign and return within a period of time stated on the documents.

You will need a case number in order to file your answer to the complaint with the court.  The complaint could not have been filed with the court without a case number.  It is possible that the copy you received inadvertently omitted the case number.  If the complaint was filed with the court, the court clerk would have stamped it with a case number.  In order to find out if there is a case number, look in the plaintiff/defendant index in the court's computer.  Look for your name under defendants.  If the case is listed in that index, a case number will be listed.

Your answer to the complaint denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the law library, look in Pleading and Practice.  Look in the index under Answer to Complaint.  This will give you the general format for an answer to a complaint and examples of answers.

At the end of the answer is the verification which you sign under penalty of perjury. The verification attests to the veracity of your statements in the answer to the complaint.  File your answer with the verification and an attached proof of service with the court.  The proof of service verifies the date of mailing to the opposing party.  You can either use a court form proof of service or write your own.  If you write your own proof of service, it would just say that you are over 18 and the attached documents were sent via first class mail unless specified otherwise to _______ (name and address of opposing party) on ________ (date).  You sign the proof of service under penalty of perjury and date it.  The date you sign should be the same as the date of mailing and the date you file the answer with the court.

If the plaintiff can't prove you owe the amount, the plaintiff won't be able to get a judgment against you.

Make extra copies of your answer to the complaint, verification and proof of service so that you can get a conformed (court stamped) copy for your records when you file your documents with the court.

If you don't file an answer to the complaint within the time stated on the summons, you will lose by default.  Then, you will need to file a motion to have the default set aside.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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