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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 32796
Experience:  16+ yrs. of legal experience.
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Im being sued by a company called suttell and hammer in Washington

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I'm being sued by a company called suttell and hammer in Washington state. This is the second time they are suing me over a debt. The first time, it was over a credit card debt I had already settled. When I called to say that they basically told me that it didn't matter that it was settled because now they were in charge of it. They ended up garnishing about 5,000$ from a 2,000$ debt. The last payment was garnished in Jan. Now they just sent another claim for an additional 3,000$ on the same loan! On the summons they sentit said I had 20 days to address it from the date that it was first put it, but the postmark date of when they sent it was already passed the 20 day mark!! How is that even remotely legal???
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

What you describe is a "demand letter"

They are demanding you pay them or they will sue.

A demand letter has no legal weight.

That is, the demand letter, in and of itself, can not be used to force you to pay anything.

So the dates on the letter are not significant...or, rather, the fact they dated the letter one day and sent it to you weeks later has no legal significance.

What will have significance is if they file a lawsuit and serve you notice.

If you are served notice for a lawsuit (called service of process), that is significant, since that is the first and required step to bring you into court. If you are served process, you will want to address that by responding to the complaint and showing up at the hearing.

Now..if you do not owe them any money, I would expect that their lawsuit will not go very far. To obtain a judgement (which is needed to garnish wages) they have the burden to prove that you still owe them money. Unless then can do so? There is no way the court will issue a judgment.

You can certainly contact yourself and dispute this. Or you can wait to see if they actually file suit.

Again, if they can not prove you owe the money the court is not going to grant a judgment.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I don't believe that it is a demand letter. It says it's a writ of garnishment. So it looks like they have already won the judgement. But, the figures don't add up. They already garnished the amount they said I originally owed and then stopped garnishing. now they are trying to garnish again for more, and the 20 days I have to say anything about it has already passed. How can I find out if this is just a demand letter, or if this is actually just another garnishment? The first time around they didn't give me a chance to explain either, one moment I was being served (which they sent the original summons to a house I no longer lived in, and I missed the court date because I had no idea I was even being served), and the first I was to hear of it I was already getting garnished.

If it is a writ of garnishment, then you are correct...that is something to be concerned with.

You need a this point, it sounds like they may have misrepresented to the court what you owe. You can file a motion with the court to vacate (toss out) the garnishment order. It also sounds like you may have a basis to vacate the original judgment (if they did not serve you process properly, that would be a basis to toss out the original judgment)

But to do this you will need to file a motion with the court.

You can try this yourself...but that is not often a good idea, The adage "a man who represents himself has a fool for a client is often true. If you act as your own lawyer, the court will expect you to know the law/rules/procedure/evidence just as if you were admitted to the bar. They (the court) will not cut you any slack. If the goal is to win the case, you want a lawyer.

The lawyer can file a motion to vacate the garnishment order as well as the original judgment.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So if I file a motion to vacate for both the garnishment orders, would I get my original garnishments back?

The motion you want to win is a motion to vacate the original judgment. If you can show that you never received service of process as required by law? Then the court can vacate that judgment...that would in effect restart the case. And the money you paid would no longer be theirs...but they can also refile the suit...since if you win the vacation hearing, they still can refile the claim against you. SO ultimately if you owe them money, they can force you to pay.

But if you can show you payed what you owe? That you owe them no more?

A motion can get the court to vacate the current garnishment order

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