This is my personal experience on how I beat Midland Funding, LLC twice in court and is not legal advice, but I will share what worked for me. Also, I want to thank Credit Info Center and all the people who wrote in the forums sharing their experience as well.
The First Lawsuit
I first received a letter from the attorney who was acting as a debt collector representing Midland and at the time I was already familiar with the validation process thanks to this website, so I sent a debt validation letter to the attorney. What they sent back was a joke and most of what I requested in the validation letter was ignored. So, after I looked at what they sent back I didn’t do anything because at this point I wasn’t being threaten to be sued. I figured they’d just go pick on somebody else who was an easier target. I was wrong.
A few weeks after I received the letter back from the collector. I was returning home one day and a car pulls up in my driveway behind me and an older man gets out of his car and asks if I was the person he was looking for, and I was. I was then served the complaint/summons. Like many, my gut sank and I panicked. After a day or so, panic turned into anger and fueled my desire to beat Midland in court. I did my homework and used the info I gained from this website and answered the complaint. A week or so later I received a packet from the attorney, which was their request for discovery. If you don’t know what discovery is, it’s the plaintiff (Midland/Attorneys) asking for all the info that you might have to help them with their case against you because they don’t have anything or very little to get a judgment against you. As I went through the discovery packet to see what Midland wanted from me I became overwhelmed. So, I called an attorney and had him answer the discovery for me. It wasn’t cheap, but better than letting Midland win and having to pay an alleged debt to them.
Now that the discovery was completed and filed with the court, I wait. As a week goes by, I receive a notice of hearing from the court. This is my first chance to really see how this is all going to unfold. So, the hearing date comes and I appear in person and the attorney phones in. That’s right! The attorney doesn’t even show up to the hearing and on top of that, the attorney who called in wasn’t even the attorney that had his name all over the complaint and discovery. The new attorney had the lawsuit dropped on his desk that morning. This was a strong indication to me how this was all going to unfold. At the hearing I stated that the debt wasn’t mine and the attorney said if this was a fraud case that they didn’t want anything to do with it and all I needed to do is fill out an affidavit and hope that Midland would drop the lawsuit. At that point the Judge scheduled the trial date and that was the end of the hearing, which only lasted 15 mins. A couple days go by and I receive an email from the attorney and it has the affidavit attached to the email. I open the attachment and read through the affidavit and realized that they were requesting the same personal info that I objected to and didn’t provide in the request for discovery. So I didn’t fill it out and again waited.
The day has now come. Leading up the trial date I organized my defense and mentally went over it in my head almost to the point of going insane. I get to the courthouse about 20 mins early to once again go over my defense and in hope that maybe no one shows up for the plaintiff. Five mins before the trial is set to begin, I see a short elderly man walk into the court room. CRAP! I was really hoping the attorney wouldn’t show and I’d win by default. Oh well, let’s do this! I enter the court room and take a seat and get organized. The judge enters; we stand, and then sit. The judge starts addressing the attorney and it turns out that the attorney sitting in the court room isn’t even the attorney from the actual law firm representing Midland. The law office hired some random rent-a-lawyer to appear and he only had from the previous night to look over the case. The judge addresses the lawyer and the rent-a-lawyer calls me to the stand to testify. I was prepared to be questioned and how to word my answers in case the lawyer tried to be tricky, and he was. He started off with a few “Yes” questions in order to get me in the frame of mind to say YES to anything he says. But when it came to the questions of the alleged debt, I was a rock. Remember, it is the plaintiff’s job to prove that I own the alleged debt, prove that I owe it to them, and that THEY (Midland) actually own the debt. Remember everything I just said because it comes into play in the second lawsuit. Anyway, after a few minutes of denying the judge turns to me and asks what I have to prove my case. What I presented to the court was my debt validation letter that I sent months ago and how it went for the most part unanswered. The judge asked a few questions to the rental lawyer, which the lawyer seemed to get confused by the questions and my presentation of my case. Rent-a-lawyer and I went round and round over my evidence and finally he got it. I was then put back on the stand and that’s when the lawyer tried to submit what I was sent in discovery from original attorneys into evidence. The judge turned to me and asked if I had seen the documents and I said, “Yes and I object to it on the grounds of hearsay”. The judge looked over the documents, which consisted of a bill of sale, affidavits, and some print outs of what was allegedly purchased with account in question. Then the judge turned to the lawyer and told him that based on what he has reviewed in the documents, he agrees that it’s all hearsay and will not admit the documents into evidence. The judge then started on the rent-a-lawyer by asking him questions on how he could even consider a judgment in the favor of the plaintiff based on their claims. And that’s when the lawyer thru his hands up in the air and said, “Fine, motion to dismiss the case without prejudice”. RED FLAG! That’s when I turned to the judge and requested the case be dismissed with prejudice. The judge made a few comments to the lawyer about how I’ve spent time and money over this case and that he was going to honor my request to dismiss with prejudice.
Finally, this five month stressful experience was all over and I’ll never go through this again, right? So I thought.
The Second Lawsuit
Fast forward ten months from the end of the first lawsuit and I get served again by the same law firm and Midland, but for a different alleged account… on my birthday. I want to take a moment and talk a little about Midland. If they get their hands on a junk debt that they say you owe, I can almost guarantee they will come after you based on my experience. Midland, as many already know, is notorious for filing lawsuits. But from what I have seen from them in the court room, as long as you do your homework and show up in court, you will have the upper hand. Ok, let’s get to this second bogus lawsuit.
The process was the same from the complaint/summons and discovery as the first lawsuit, but this time I didn’t need a lawyer to complete the discovery because I kept the one from the last lawsuit. So, the complaint and discovery were word for word copy for the most part so all I had to do is make a few changes to make it fit. Once all the paperwork was filed with the court and copies sent to the Midland’s lawyers, I sent a debt validation letter to the law firm. I figured what the hell, why not. It was the same format as the letter I sent in the first lawsuit and I got back the same garbage from the debt collector (law firm) as I did in the first lawsuit. The hearing date comes and goes and a trial date is set by the same judge as the first lawsuit, which was a good thing for me because I knew what to expect from the judge and how he worked.
A week before the trial everything changed and I thought I was doomed. I was getting my mail and received an 8 ½ X 11 size envelope from the lawyer. Now I’m thinking, great, what now. What they sent me was a Notice of Exhibits and Witnesses for trial and a Notice of Intent to use 902(11) Evidence. Ok, let’s break this down. The exhibits and witness consisted of the same documents that I received in discovery except, one new document that was titled Book Records Affidavit or something like that and two female names and mine were listed as witnesses that may be called upon at trial. Up until I received all this new info, I was confident in my case, but all that went out the window and I felt like I did during the first lawsuit. Again, a day goes by and the panic turns to anger and strength to get my head on straight. First I realized that Midland was trying to scare me into believing that they were going to fly witnesses from out of state to testify against me. Financially for Midland it made no sense. Second, what the hell were these women going to testify to? Anyway, I prepared questions to ask them at trial and planned on objecting to anything they say on the grounds of Lacking Personal Knowledge and Hearsay. Now to the important part of the notices I received, Notice of Intent to use 902(11) Evidence. In my state this rule basically protects the plaintiff’s evidence from the hearsay rule based on the grounds that the documents were maintained accordingly by the party. I had a hard time with this one and I was going to take my chances at trial to get around the rule.
On the day of the trial I was a wreck. But, I had to keep in mind that they still had to prove their case to the judge. Remember what I said back in the first lawsuit? It is the plaintiff’s job to prove that I own the alleged debt, prove that I owe it to them, and that THEY (Midland) actually own the debt.
This is how I used the above statement for my defense:
Midland Funding did not have a contract with my signature or agreement from the original creditor showing I owned the debt and they didn’t show how they calculated the amount and what was purchased with the alleged credit card.
Midland Funding didn’t have a contract/agreement between me and Midland stating that I owe them anything.
And most importantly, as I examined the bill of sale there was not one mention that Midland Funding, LLC actually purchased or owned the specific debt that they claimed I owed. NOT ONE WORD. All it stated is that Midland bought a POOL of charged-off accounts.
Everything that I mentioned above is essential for JDB’s to prove their case and they don’t have such info, unless you give it to them by agreeing to pay them.
Ok, now for how it all went down in court. I get there early like last time and wait in the court room eagerly watching the clock to strike 9 am. About five minutes till 9 a tall order man walks into the court room and asks if I am the defendant and I say yes. Then he goes on to say he’s the attorney representing Midland Funding, LLC and guess what? He’s a rent-a-lawyer! This lawyer like the last only received the case files the day before and he was alone. NO WITNESSES. The rental then asked if I’d be interested in settling and I said no thank you.
The judge enters; we stand, and then sit. This time we each get to have an opening statement before I get called to the stand. So, in my head I know the lawyer is going to ask the “YES” questions and try to trip me up. Not going to happen. He starts off asking basic questions like what’s my full name and address. Then he started with questions on the alleged debt. After I honestly denied his questions, he started to introduce his evidence. The rental did this in a very drawn out way by introducing one document at a time and explaining why it should be admitted. As soon as he went to submit the first exhibit, I OBJECTED on grounds of hearsay. Remember the Notice of Intent to use 902(11) Evidence, well it was used and it worked for the rental. Every document he submitted for evidence was accepted by the judge based on the 902(11) evidence rule and the hearsay rule was useless. So now that Mr. Rental had all of his exhibits entered into evidence, I was given the opportunity to make my case. I knew I had to push hard and really focus on the statements that I outlined earlier for my defense.
When it came my turn to present my case I started with the easy approach. I went with the debt validation letter I sent to the law firm. I made the case to the judge that I had sent the letter and it was ignored for the most part and they failed to send me what I requested in the letter. I also made the case that what was sent to me could have been created by anyone with a computer that had Microsoft Word. The judge agreed. The letter came back into play, but I’ll touch on that in a few.
At this point, the rental didn’t object to anything I was saying and the validation letter was admitted into evidence. Next, I started on all the documents that were admitted against me and that weren’t. First, where’s the contract with my signature stating I entered into with the original creditor? Judge, “Counsel do you have that document?” The rental states, NO. Then I move onto the bill of sale. I bring to the judge’s attention that there’s not one word in the bill of sale that states that Midland had actually purchased the specific alleged debt that they are claiming they own. The only words that state that Midland bought anything were POOL of charged-off accounts. No specific indication that Midland actual owns the specific debt that they are trying to sue me for. This unleashed a hail storm of questions from the judge to the rental, all of which the rental had NO answer or proof of. With that being said, I attacked with, where is the contract that states I entered into an agreement with Midland to pay them? Again, the judge rips into the rental with more questions. Judge, “Counsel, I don’t see an agreement in which the defendant and the plaintiff entered into a creditor/consumer contract, do you have one?” The rental sits for a second and then replies, “No”. After that the judge started recapping everything I pointed out and lectured the rental on how can a suit be brought forward if there isn’t enough evidence to prove their case.
Now we get to what sealed the deal, if not already. While the judge was lecturing the rental he noticed something on one of the documents that was submitted into evidence by the rental. It was a credit card statement. The statement had three different dates on it and one of those dates I didn’t notice and over looked. One date was a date referencing being a member since whatever year, the next was a due date which was two years after the member date, and the last, the one I over looked had a date that went back SIX years before the “member since” date and showed interest charges. What a minute! How could interest charges be on a statement SIX years before being a member? RED FLAG! The judge then stated that the date of the interest charges date back to being thirteen years old, which puts the alleged debt eight years past my states statute of limitations. So not only does Midland have nothing document wise to prove anything, now they lack legal standing to even bring suit because one can now make the case that the statute of limitations has well come and gone. I really wish I had noticed the dates when I received the complaint/summons and had the case dismissed with prejudice at the hearing. Oh well.
After piling my defense on the court and the rental, the rental puts me back on the stand for a last ditch effort to question me. He asked a few basic questions and at that point the questions he was asking I could only speculate on and that’s all I said. The rental said no further questions and I stepped down from the stand. The judge then asks to hear our closing statements. Mr. Rental’s closing statement was him just asking for damages to be rewarded to the plaintiff based on that they FEEL I owe the debt. You have got to be kidding. My turn comes and I summarize everything that I have mentioned and requested the case be dismissed with prejudice. The judge then makes a few remarks and then dismisses the case with prejudice based on the evidence provided in his court room.
I hope someone can learn from my experience and win as well. Remember, they have nothing. All they will try and do is scare you. Even if the hearsay rule can’t be used, it doesn’t mean you can’t win. They still have to prove everything I outlined earlier. Stay strong and don’t give up. Good luck!