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Attorney & Counselor at Law
Attorney & Counselor at Law, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 868
Experience:  Corporate, Entertainment & Trial attorney with large law firm & Fortune 500 client experience.
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I purchased a new condo in a college town in California, one

Customer Question

I purchased a new condo in a college town in California, one tenant brought in a lab puppy, uncrated & destroyed the carpet w/urine and poo. I had to replace the carpet. She and parents took me to small claims court for not returning her cleaning deposit! I requested an extension since I did not have time to prepare and was entitled to 20 days from service since I resided out of county. I never heard from the courts and in the meantime, I had to go to Australia to take care of my daughter who is pregnant. During that time, they had a hearing and did not know, they mailed the judgement to the condo and not my home. When I found out, I requested a motion to vacate, had a hearing and the judge did not even hear the case, he just denied it without me being able to speak. I took time off drove 90 miles and lost. I decided to pay the judgement since I just wanted to get rid of these people. I sent a cashiers check within 30 days and they levied my bank a/c. I am outraged! Help
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Attorney & Counselor at Law replied 8 years ago.
Hi - It sounds like you have had a difficult experience.

Your trouble seems to stem from the fact that you did not answer the complaint on time. It is very important to answer any complaint as soon as possible. The complaint was likely issued with a summons that explained that you must answer within the stated time. It is unfortunate that the court did not get back to you about an extension, however that does not change your obligation to answer on time after being served. A default judgment was issued and judges are unwilling to reopen such default unless there are extraordinary circumstance (being out of the country is actually not enough)

They can collect the judgment by levy if you do not pay the full amount of the judgment. However, if you satisfied the judgment, they are not allowed to levy. You should contact your bank if that is the case.
If you have overpaid the judgment with a cashiers check, you will have to sue them to recover the overpayment. You can do this without an attorney, but you will have to spend filing fees. Your local Clerk of Court can usually help you sort out small claim matters.

Good luck!