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I have edited this post to include this introductory statement because there's a lot here and I feel it's important to read through this saga knowing ahead of time how it will end. You will see how much work and attention to detail I gave this case but it was not enough to come out on top. I lost in Justice Court when the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (MSJ) and was unable to get the appellate court to reverse the lower court's ruling. Here is the thread for my appeal: http://www.creditinfocenter.com/community/topic/323330-arizona-lost-to-cavalry-on-msj-also-lost-on-appeal/ I have learned several things along the way. The most significant one is that in most cases, there is no "absolute" way a Justice Court judge has to rule on evidence. He can rule one way on admitting certain evidence and another judge can rule the exact opposite way. If both cases went to appeal, the appellate court can rule that neither judge committed error. To wit, winning in Arizona is mostly luck of the draw and as time marches on, good luck seems to be evermore diminishing . The reason for this is because appellate courts in AZ (and most other places) review the admission of evidence for an "abuse of discretion". This means they are not looking for a specific outcome with the admission of evidence (admitted or rejected), but instead are looking for something to indicate the judge had a basis for his decision. Furthermore, if there is nothing on the record that shows the judge had no basis for his ruling, the appellate courts usually won't assume facts that aren't there. This means the evidence itself must be lacking some fundamental element in order to have the appellate court reverse the Justice Court decision. The next important thing I learned is that there is a case here in Arizona named Parker that appeals courts have been applying to JDB lawsuits. Parker says that a witness can testify about business records even if that witness did not create the records or has no knowledge of the person that created them or the manner in which they were created. The way this is being applied to JDB lawsuits is an employee of a JDB can testify about your credit card statements even though the JDB's employee has never seen the records before reviewing them in preparation of giving her testimony. The only criteria for giving this testimony is that the testimony must state 1.) the witness is a custodian of the JDBs records; 2.) the witness has reviewed the records being introduced (and specifically identifies them); 3.) the records were incorporated into the JDBs own records; and 4.) the JDB relied on the records in its normal course of business. If all 4 of those things are present in the witness testimony (or affidavit on MSJ), the Justice Court is free to admit the evidence and the appellate court won't reverse that decision on objections of hearsay or lack of foundation. This doesn't mean the evidence admission cannot be reversed based on some fundamental defect with the evidence itself, however. Examples of this would be a date that doesn't match up with other dates or dollar amounts among the records are discrepant with no rational explanation. It's YOUR job to raise these questions with the lower court. If you don't address them with the lower court, the appellate court won't consider them on appeal. The last important thing I learned is that JDBs are now entering into 'capped legal fee' agreements with their attorneys. This means that the lawyer agrees to represent the JDB for a modest fee if the defendant does not contest the lawsuit (including defaults) and then a maximum amount the JDB will pay on contested lawsuits. In my own case the cap was set at $1,500. The lawyer submitted an affidavit that they spent over $11,000 in time, but stated that due to 'contractual arrangements' they could only charge $1,500 of that to Cavalry. The significance of this is that a few years ago, if a defendant contested the lawsuit and started running up the JDB's legal tab, the JDB would be more inclined to drop the case and walk away. Now, when they know they will spend no more than $1,500, once they reach that $1,500 limit (right around the 2-3 month mark of the lawsuit when discovery takes place), they have no incentive to back down. It will cost the JDB the same to litigate the case all the way to trial and beyond (I appealed and Cavalry never paid more than $1,500) as it would to settle the case once the cap is reached. The cautionary tale here is that JDBs (at least here in AZ) have figured out exactly what they need to do in order to keep a Justice Court decision in their favor from getting reversed. My philosophy is to do whatever you can to keep the Arizona Court System from deciding your fate on a debt collection lawsuit. At this time, the most effective way to do that is via arbitration. There is an arbitration forum here on CIC. I suggest asking for advice there. Also, here is an example of how arbitration was used in Arizona to beat a JDB: http://www.creditinfocenter.com/community/topic/326349-retired-and-being-sued-by-unifund/ Here is a Justice Court Appeals Ruling discussing the use of arbitration in debt collection cases. http://www.courtminutes.maricopa.gov/docs/Lower Court/082016/m7481002.pdf Update 12-21-2015: The CFPB smacked Midland and Portfolio Financial Services (PFS) pretty hard in a consent order earlier this year. You can read the details here: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/cfpb-takes-action-against-the-two-largest-debt-buyers-for-using-deceptive-tactics-to-collect-bad-debts/ The reason this is significant is some of the Justice Courts here have reconsidered how they are treating Midland and PFS when consumers contest the lawsuits they bring. This is from a Justice Court case that was reversed on appeal: http://www.courtminutes.maricopa.gov/docs/Lower%20Court/102015/m7064645.pdf There have been a couple reports of the Justice Courts taking it upon themselves to reject the evidence, even when the defendant doesn't raise the issues of the CFPB findings. Of course, if you are sued by Midland or PFS, certainly address the CFPB findings when objecting to summary judgment or at trial when Midland/PFS tries to introduce their evidence. Update 04-06-2016: It seems the Justice Court appellate court has had a change of heart: http://courtminutes.maricopa.gov/docs/Lower%20Court/022016/m7204120.pdf Ok, on to my story.
Guest posted a topic in Is There a Lawyer in the HouseHi, I am being sued by Jefferson Capital for an Old debt originating from Fingerhut Direct Marketing. An adult in my home was served with the summons. They just told me about the summons and the deadline to file an appearance is tomorrow 10/30. My question is about SOL. I can't find my agreement but all the agreements I have seen issued by Fingerhut states that there State Law of Utah is the law that prevails. My understanding is that the time to collect on this type of debt is 4 years for the state of Utah and 5 years for my state of Illinois. If we go by the state that's governing in the contract 4 years would have pasted since I had any dealings with the original creditor. My question is, if I do find the old Agreement and discover that the Governing State is Utah, which state law prevails? The one in the agreement or the state in which I currently reside? Also does SOL start from the time of the last defaulted payment or from when something was last purchased? And is my understanding of the Governing State correct? Thanks
I just claimed a defeat with a denial of a Motion for Summary Judgment. Is there anything I should or can do to stop the Plaintiff from trying again? Also, When the Plaintiff first filed the complaint, it was a couple of months before the Satatue of Limitation. Now the SOL has passed. Should I claim that now? The judge's ruling reads as follows: Plaintiffs Motion For Summary Desposition: The motion is denied for the reasons expressed on the record. Plaintiff is unable to proceed to trial for the reason that it has no witnesses to proceed. This matter is accordingly Dismissed without prejudice. I want to get them before they get me this time. Thanks Everyone!!!! Oh the MSJ hearing and the Trial were scheduled one hour apart.