In anticipation of the Jan. 1, 2019 effective date of Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure 8.1 and 55.1, two new rules approved by the Supreme Judicial Court earlier this year, Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula M. Carey has promulgated a series of forms related to those rules and has issued Trial Court Standing Order 1-19 mandating their use as of the effective date of the new rules.
Rules 8.1 and 55.1 establish new requirements for claims to collect consumer debt arising from the use of certain revolving credit agreements (primarily credit card collection cases), and prevent non-complying plaintiffs from obtaining defaults or default judgments in such cases.
Specifically, Rule 8.1 requires a plaintiff to file with the complaint detailed affidavits identifying the debt, documenting the debt, and verifying the defendant’s address; the rule also requires the plaintiff to file a certification concerning the statute of limitation applicable to the claim.
Counsel and plaintiffs completing these documents should be mindful of their obligation to ensure that any personal identifying information included in those documents be redacted before filing.
The Trial Court has promulgated the following forms for mandatory use, linked below:
- Revised Statement of Damages, G. L. c. 218, sec. 19A, for use in the District and Boston Municipal Courts
- Revised Civil Action Cover Sheet, for use in the Superior Court
(Both of these revised versions allow filers to identify the action as one involving “collection of a debt incurred pursuant to a revolving credit agreement,” and so subject to the requirements of Rule 8.1.)
- Affidavit Regarding Debt, Mass. R. Civ. P. 8.1(c)
- Affidavit Providing Documentation of Debt, Mass. R. Civ. P. 8.1(d)
- Affidavit of Address Verification, Mass. R. Civ. P. 8.1 (e)
- Certification Regarding Statute of Limitations, Mass. R. Civ. P. 8.1(f)
- Affidavit of Compliance and Plaintiff’s Entitlement to Judgment, Mass. R. Civ. P. 55.1(b)(1)
- Affidavit of Address Re-Verification Upon Request For Default Judgment, Mass. R. Civ. P. 55.1(d)
The forms linked above will be maintained on Mass.gov as .pdf fillable documents that can either be printed and filed as hard copies or filed electronically.
The standing order also refers to a court-generated Notice to Parties of Non-Entry of Default, Mass. R. Civ. P. 55.1(b)(2)
, which notifies parties in cases subject to Rule 8.1 when a request for default has been rejected for non-compliance with the new rules, and which also provides notice of the court’s impending dismissal of the action unless the plaintiff acts in a timely manner to show cause for why it should not be dismissed. In addition, the chief justices of the Boston Municipal Court and the District Court have issued a Suspension of Joint Standing Order 2-15
regarding the Verification of Defendant’s Address for Claims Incurred in Trade or Commerce or Pursuing Assigned Debt. The suspension is necessary to avoid confusion when the new rules go into effect on Jan. 1.