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Can a judgment against me expire without moving forward if they don’t serve me?

Asked by user in North Carolina.

I was sued in the state of North Carolina. I lost by not appearing in court. There was a civil judgment against me as a result ($285,000). That judgment was set to expire a couple of years ago and the plaintiff filed papers to renew the judgment. The problem is they haven’t served me papers. According to a court clerk I spoke to on the phone they are still trying to find me to serve the papers.

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

In North Carolina, the process for “renewing” a judgment is different than in most other states.

To renew a judgment in North Carolina, the creditor must file a second lawsuit for the remaining amount owed on the original judgment. The debtor must be served with a complaint, summons, and affidavit.

If the debtor is not served, the judgment won’t be renewed. However, there are a number of fairly simple ways to serve a debtor when the creditor doesn’t know where the debtor lives or is having trouble serving the debtor personally. For example, the creditor can simply publish notice of the lawsuit in a newspaper located in the county where the debtor last resided.

I suspect your creditor is in the process of completing service by publication (notice generally has to run in the newspaper for several weeks). Once your creditor has completed this process, they can once again obtain a 10-year judgment on the basis of your unresponsiveness.

If you would like to resolve this issue, I would suggest contesting the renewal (i.e., responding to the complaint) or contacting the creditor and working out a payment plan.

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