Is it important to respond to a summary judgment motion in an ejectment case?
“Is it important to respond to a summary judgment motion in an ejectment case?”
What is an ejectment case?
If you get foreclosed on your Alabama home and do not move out, you will almost certainly be sued in an “ejectment” lawsuit. This is where the alleged new owner of your property, almost always the mortgage company or Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, etc, asks the court to order you to get out of the house.
Since you haven’t left the house voluntarily, you get sued to remove you from your home. And the mortgage company will want the judge to order you have lost your right of redemption and (usually) the mortgage company will ask for money damages against you for living in (their — supposedly) house after the foreclosure.
What’s a summary judgment?
That’s a motion, and almost all motions are in writing.
A motion is simply asking the judge to do something — to take some action.
In our example, the mortgage company is asking the court to go ahead and enter judgment against you instead of letting this go to a trial.
The argument in the motion is, “There’s no reason to have a trial because no reasonable jury or judge could ever find in favor of the former homeowner so go ahead and give the mortgage company a judgment.”
If granted, then the case is over — you will have lost and now, for the first time, you will be ordered to leave your home.
So what happens when a motion for summary judgment gets filed?
Mortgage company files the motion electronically and they will mail you a copy of it.
The package you will receive will usually be 50-100 pages and will normally include the following:
- The motion
- Legal arguments (sometimes called a “legal brief”)
- Affidavit — sworn statements from people controlled by the mortgage company to show that you must lose
- Documents such as the note, mortgage, foreclosure letters, etc.
What do I do in response to the motion?
Either the hearing date will already be set in the motion (look carefully for it) or the judge will set it after the motion gets filed.
You normally should have at least 10 days notice before the hearing date.
Two major things you need to do with the motion and hearing date:
- Show up to the hearing date prepared
- File the right response within the time limits
Why do I need to show up at the hearing?
If you don’t show up, you will lose. So be on time. Know where you are going. Don’t cut it close or forget about traffic, parking, getting through security, etc.
How do I file the right response within the time limits?
Always check with the judge but normally the rule is to file your written response at least two (2) business days before the hearing date.
And then you need to follow rule 56 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure for how to respond to the motion for summary judgment. You need to address the legal arguments and the factual arguments.
I can’t teach you how to do this — if you are handling on your own then you need to research Rule 56. My suggestion is get a lawyer and only deal with summary judgment if you don’t have the money for a lawyer. In that case, you are your own lawyer so educate yourself on what Rule 56 means in this context.
What if I lose the summary judgment?
You must leave your home.
The order will say what happens but normally it will say you have to leave, a sheriff will remove you and your possessions from your home, and you have lost your right to redeem the property and possibly that you owe money damages.
This is where people complain about not getting “their day in court” especially when the sheriff says you leave now.
Well, the summary judgment was your day in court and you lost.
What should I do if I’m facing a summary judgment motion/hearing?
Decide if staying in your house — your home — is important to you.
If not, then you may want to handle on your own.
But if staying in your home is important, then hire a lawyer who knows what he or she is doing. And not an out of state lawyer who is not licensed here — that does you no good. Hire an Alabama licensed lawyer and take this seriously. It is a very serious matter as you are in great danger of losing your home.
If you want to know more about ejectment cases — here is a long video and transcript that can give you some answers on ejectment lawsuits.
If you want us to consider helping you, then reach out to my office.
We have a $500 consultation for a 90 minute meeting — we will be prepared by reading what you give us ahead of time, we will discuss your options and the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
Some folks are offended by this — they say “I want a lawyer who will represent me for free. I have no money.”
Well, if you aren’t paying your mortgage and you have no money, what is the thought process? You will live in your home for free?
You should be paying your mortgage or paying a lawyer to help you fight back against the mortgage company if the mortgage company did wrong.
For those who are serious, and I don’t think you would still be reading if you weren’t serious, paying $500 to get a gameplan is a bargain when compared to the value of knowing your options with your home.
If we can help you, call us at 205-879-2447 or contact us through this website — make sure and tell us the case number, county of the court, and the date of your hearing.
Best wishes with staying in your home.