“You have been served” – the famous phrase uttered by process servers everywhere, may never be heard by a bankruptcy defendant.
Well, Bankruptcy Rule 7004 bestows the rare privilege of nationwide service of process by FIRST CLASS U.S. MAIL of a Summons and Complaint on defendants (with a few exceptions). In bankruptcy cases, a Summons and Complaint that comes in the mail is just as valid as if a process server knocked on your front door, handed you the lawsuit, looked you in the face and said, “you have been served.”
Bankruptcy adversary proceedings move quickly, and generally an adversary defendant only has 30 days after the date of the issuance (not mailing, not receipt) of the Summons to respond to the Complaint. A Scheduling Order often accompanies the Summons and Complaint and outlines all the substantive deadlines for discovery and trial leading up to the pretrial conference, which is generally within 90 days.
Accordingly, if you are served with a Summons in a bankruptcy case, notifying you that an adversary proceeding has been filed against you, best take it seriously and seek out legal advice from a qualified bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible!
Heather L. Ries is an attorney with the Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy Department of the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Heather focuses her practice in matters related to bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, commercial workout and foreclosure disputes, and commercial litigation. You can contact Heather at 561-804-4419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.