Joint Standing Order
District/Municipal Court Rules Joint Standing Order 2-15: Verification of defendant's address for claims incurred in trade or commerce or pursuing assigned debt
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This standing order is issued pursuant to the authority of Chief Justices of the Boston Municipal Court and of the District Court under G.L. c. 211B, § 10 and G.L. c. 218, § 43A to address the verification of a defendant’s address in civil actions in the regular civil dockets in the Boston Municipal Court and the District Court, in cases in which the plaintiff is pursuing a claim incurred in the course of the plaintiff’s trade or commerce, or pursuing a claim for assigned debt. Its purpose is to assure notice to the defendant and to provide the defendant with an opportunity to be heard prior to any default judgment.
As used in this standing order, the following terms shall have the following meanings: “Assigned debt” shall mean a claim or judgment where the right to collect the debt has been assigned by the creditor to another person or entity. “Trade” and “commerce” shall have the same meaning as in G.L. c. 93A, § 1 , but shall not include the lease or rental of residential property that is the plaintiff’s primary residence and that consists of three units or less, provided the plaintiff does not own, manage, or have other involvement in the lease or rental of other residential property.
2. Verification of address
Unless otherwise authorized by the court upon motion, a plaintiff commencing an action in the Boston Municipal Court or the District Court against one or more individual defendants for a claim incurred in the course of plaintiff’s trade or commerce, or a claim for assigned debt, shall file along with the complaint a Verification of Defendant's Address, certifying that the plaintiff has verified the defendant’s residential address in the manner set forth herein. The Verification of Defendant's Address shall be signed by the plaintiff or plaintiff’s counsel under the penalties of perjury and upon personal knowledge and state that the defendant’s residential address has been verified as follows:
a. By at least one of the following methods:
i. address listed in a municipal record, such as a street list or tax records, verified within twelve months prior to the commencement of the action, with the date of verification;
ii. address listed with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, verified within twelve months prior to the commencement of the action, with the date of verification;
iii. receipt of correspondence from the defendant with that return address within twelve months prior to the commencement of the action, with the date the correspondence was received; iv. other verification from the defendant within twelve months prior to the commencement of the action that the address is current, followed by a description of such verification; or
b. By at least two of the following methods:
i. a letter having been sent to the defendant at the address by first-class mail on a date within six months prior to the commencement of the action and at least four weeks prior to the commencement of the action, with the letter not having been returned to the sender by the postal service, with a specification of the date of mailing;
ii. using an online database (other than the white pages or other unpaid general telephone directory) within six months prior to the commencement of the action, specifying the name and source of the database; iii. using an additional source, with an identification of the source.
3. Description of claim
The following information shall be set forth in the complaint:
(1) the name of the original creditor (if different from plaintiff’s);
(2) the nature of any debt claimed (for example, credit card, educational loans, medical debt);
(3) the last four digits of the account number assigned by the original creditor, if any; and
(4) the amount and date of the defendant’s last payment, if any.
4. Service of process
If the summons and complaint are served upon the defendant by leaving copies thereof at the defendant’s last and usual place of abode pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 4(d), the place of abode must be the address as verified in section 2, and the return of service shall set forth the address.
5. Service of other papers
Except where the defendant has provided an address to the court in the case, if a pleading or other paper is served on a defendant by mailing it to the defendant at the defendant’s last known address pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 5(b), the last known address must be the address as verified in section 2, and any certification of service shall set forth the address.
6. Change of address
If the plaintiff or plaintiff’s counsel learns that the defendant has changed address, the plaintiff shall verify same and file a new Verification of Defendant’s Address Form.
If the plaintiff fails to comply with this order and the defendant does not file an answer or responsive pleading or otherwise appear at trial or other scheduled court events, no default or default judgment shall be entered for the plaintiff, and the complaint may be dismissed by the court without prejudice.