Landlord Obtaining a Judgment Against You Without Proper Service of Process

Did you have a judgment entered against you without having been served with the court papers?  In Maryland District Court and Maryland Circuit Court, a landlord cannot obtain a judgment against you unless you are served with court papers, which is called “service of process”.  

For money damages cases in Maryland, “service of process” consists of the delivery of the Complaint and Summons to you, and generally must be through one of three ways:

    1) Personal Service – the Defendant must be handed the Complaint and Summons by someone other than a party – typically a private process server or the Sheriff’s Office.

    2) Service through leaving the lawsuit papers with someone at the Defendant’s current home who is a resident of that home and is of “suitable age and discretion.”  So if the Defendant does not get served personally, the person served must be at the Defendant’s current home, must also live there, and must  be a responsible adult 

    3) Service through the mail by certified mail, restricted delivery.  This requires the Defendant to sign the green certified mailing card when the Complaint and Summons is delivered by the post office.

If you had a default judgment or affidavit judgment entered against you without proper service of process, lawyers at Civil Justice may be able to help get rid of that judgment.  The first, most important thing you should do is get a copy of the Affidavit of Service that is filed in your case.  You can get that by going to the courthouse and asking to see the case file for your case.  You should get copies of the Affidavit of Service, the Complaint and the Summons (if it is available).  Copies are normally $.50 a page.  

The Affidavit of Service will tell you how the landlord claims you were served.  If service was made through a process server, the process server will often describe the person served.  Unfortunately, some process servers are willing to lie about service in order to get paid.  This happens frequently enough that there is a term for this called “Sewer Service” – i.e. the process server just throws the lawsuit papers into the sewer and then lies about what happened.  Sometimes the process server will have an old address that is no longer good and will leave the papers with someone there, even though that is not good enough under Maryland Law.  

If you can prove that you were not served in the way claimed in the Affidavit of Service and a default judgment or affidavit judgment was entered against you, you should call Civil Justice free of charge at (410) 706-0174 or fill out our online intake form here and ask for referrals to lawyers who may be able to help. 

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