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for those of you who recently went to court pro se?


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Got a letter in the mail in Nov. of 2005 from a lawfirm representing Midland Credit Management. DV'd the lawfirm in Dec. 2005. They replied to the DV with a summons in April 2006. I filed my answer in Jun 2006, filed my trial brief in Jan 07. Was in court March 2007. OC was Household, sold account to CA (MCM). MCM sued me in superior court for the principle balance of just over $1,100. Showed up in court, they could not prove the debt was mine, they had no signed application, no copies of any credit card receipts. Case found in my favor.

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sued by collection agency?

can you share your experience?

what were the circumstances and did you win or loose?

how would you handle it differently?

Here is a good thread form the Lawyer forum. Good examples of what I think you are looking for:


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What happens after you win the suit? Does the CA have to have the item removed from your credit report?

Depends on what you negotiate out with the CA(JDB). Your best route would be negotiating for full deletion and that the debt never be re-sold so it never comes back to haunt you again. Basically the JDB eats the few cents he paid for your debt.

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Yeah--I've been to court several times.

I was taken to court by an 'attorney' acting on behalf of HBC for a debt that had been settled several years prior to the attorney getting the account.

On that one (it was a MESS) they told me I just had to supply them with proof that the debt had been paid. I had a certified check stub showing the payment in 2004. They told me that I need not go to court and the case would be dismissed. (NEVER BELIEVE THAT!!!) Since I didn't go to court--they got a Default Judgement against me but had terms added to the judgement. They stated I had made 'payment arrangements. I never received a copy of the judgement but was made aware of it when my wages were garanshied. Thankfully my job is really cool and they told me BEFORE it would be taken out of my check so I could go to the court and get a stop order for the garnishment. I took the copy to work and they didn't take any money out.

A new court date was set, at that time I made sure I was there with all of my proof and notes taken during my conversations with this attorney's office. (They were really jerks.) The 'paid by the hour' attorney that this attorney had hired had NO information about my account with the exception of a computer printout that simply said I owed a couple thousand dollars to HBC. I had my stuff--but the judge alowed a continuance and told the attorney that he'd better be prepared next time.

Go back to court a new 'hourly' attorney is there (without any proof of my debt). The judge asked him what he wanted to do, the attorney said they needed more time to get all of the paperwork so they wanted the case Dissmisses Without Prejudice. The judge asks me how I feel about that. Told him 'Sure, I can live with the 'Dismissed' but I want it Dismissed WITH Prejudice. They have sued me, tried to garanshee my wages and Dismissing Without Prejudice only means they will continue to sue me in hopes that they'll get more money on a debt that has been paid. The judge REAMED the attorney and Dismissed WITH Prejudice along with the following: The account had been PAID IN FULL.

Second one was another Default Judgement (Okay--I didn't know about this place...) It was on my credit report so I went to the OC and had them investigate the account. I told them it wasn't mine. They sent me a letter stating that they had no information on the account and that they had determined it was Fraud. I sent the letter to the attorney and to the court. I got a paper in the mail from the attorney that I needed to sign. It was a court paper asking that the case be dismissed. I made a copy of it and sent it to the court also. I got the judgement in the mail after two weeks and they took it off my CR's.

Third one: I took them to court! Arrow financial was harrassing me about a Target card I had paid off in 96. They said I had opened the account in 99 and made payments until 2003. They refused to send me proof and they wanted me to send them proof that I had paid it back in 96--legally you don't have to keep that sort of stuff forever. I wrote to Target--they had NO information on me. I had receipts that I had sent letters to Arrow requesting that they send me proof of MY account, to the credit bureaus asking that the account be verified (plus it was reported differently on each CR). I finally got Pi$$ed and filed against them in small claims. They were real nice after that. They offered to settle out of court if I just dropped the case by not showing up. (Yeah - Right on! ) I told them I'd settle but they had to reimburse my court costs, the cost of all the CMRR's and faxes, plus for my time spent in having to deal with them. (Every time they called--someone NEW had my file and they never had any of the information the previous person had been given.) I accepted the day of court--went to court and told the judge what the deal was. He Dissmissed it Without Prejudice so I could reinstate the suit if Arrow didn't comply with the agreement. I ended up with about $100 after all my costs (including gas money). The Judge thought it was funny...people don't sue the CA's as a rule...people usually don't bother to show up--which the CA's count on for easy Default Judgements.


Sorry so wordy...but you asked!

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I defaulted on 42+ credit cards (over $550,000), business failure. Started defaulting 13 months ago. Sold assets and 3 of 4 businesses off to pay secured debt and save my house. I am "over the unsecured limit for Ch. 13 bankruptcy."

Bankruptcy Lawyer said to negotiate and fight when needed. (instead of bankruptcy) Paid off about $250,000 with $60,000 left over from asset sales. That was good advice after you read on! (Keep in mind a Ch. 13 would have been an unreasonable $5000+/month payment for 60 months!)

Rest did not want to reasonably deal. Been sued twice and have 1 arbitration with NAF. On the lawsuits, there is a smart opposing attorney on the case, nothing like the lazy slimball attorneys you read about on this forum.

One suit (the big one), I got opposing lawyer hanging by his fingernails on my motion to dismiss for conducting further collection action without validating the debt. (This is why you send those DV's on the receipt of the dunning letter!) I just submitted a proposed decision and order to judge to sign to dimiss with prejudice. I'm feeling pretty good about this one. He has it "under advisement".

Other suit (same lawyer bTW), judge denied my MTD from bench without a hearing because I forgot to submit the demand for an oral hearing notice required in WI. (Where the case above, I think the oral hearing immensely helped me) Lawyer then tried to get default judgment against me but was denied! He then filed summary judgment against me. At hearing, Judge was handing defense lawyers their butt that day on Summary Judgments, but I got him to think about it for 30 days. Judge stated, "He doesn't need to get the contract". BUT demanded other lawyer get it because other lawyer was "rude to me in discovery request" (So be professional to opposing counsel! And launch Discovery upfront on your answer to the court!). Judge still said he would "probably grant summary judgment" anyway even if he did not find the agrement with my signature. Gave other side 30 days. Not comforting. Meanwhile we had 2 rounds of briefs and I pointed out 15 U.S.C. § 1643(B) applies to both original creditor and bad debt buyers and requires them to show "authorized use" for charges. (They have no signature of mine, in evidence, on anything) Just last week opposing lawyer said I signed up by phone (I really don't remember that). Well his affidavit from the OC says they "reviewed the file" and "I agreed to the charges". (Implying written contractual consent!) How? it was an oral consent according to the lawyer! I pointed out again that "STATEMENTS OF COUNSEL IN BRIEF OR ARGUMENT ARE INSUFFICIENT FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT" (Trinsey vs. Pagliaro) He also destroyed his only credible evidence, his affidavit from the OC! At this point, I'd be surprised if he does get summary judgment! Judge just took another 15 days to decide! I think that is very good for me, given judges railroad attitude at the hearing!

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, PUT THESE WORDS IN YOUR ANSWER, "TRIAL BY JURY DEMANDED". If you survive pre-trial motion, default/summary judgment, you always have a shot to win with a jury! This is my goal in cases above. This means OC has to drag a witness in from 4 states away to testify. It may happen, but I'm sure going to shred the witness, if they do come. (It will be merely someone who "reveiwed" the file, not someone with actual firsthand knowledge of the receipts and disburesments!)

As for the NAF, search my posts, its a farce, but its a fun farce! I'm "teeing it up" to destroy their attempt at confirmation of the kangarooo arbitration award in local court and a potential RICO against the NAF. This one, I'm just having fun with it by burying them in paperwork. NAF is good practice on dealing with biased judges! They are far worse than the judge I mention above!

If you can't get a lawsuit thrown out in the pre-trial motion process, my goal is to JUST GET IT TO THE JURY! That should be your mantra. Most debt lawyers do not have the proof, time, or inclination to waste time getting a witness in front of a jury that will treat them as suspect when faced with the poor "victim" of debt collection.

Debt lawyers make more money by churning out default no-shows. Months to year long cases do not make them money, especially when law in my state forbids collection of attorney fees on consumer debt cases!

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I can't tell if you are looking for success stories, horror stories or something else. It seems to me that those are not going to help you a lot.

You will find some of everything.

Success defending yourself depends of a number of factors:

1. Your defenses to the lawsuit -- do you have natural defenses (like OOS) or must you stretch for more difficult and abstract defenses (like trueq). Are there counterclaims.

2. Your ability -- are you capable of learning what you need to learn to represent yourself? Some people can and some people can't. If you don't have good natural defenses, you must be creative and that means you must learn the laws of your state really really well. You must learn how to do the courthouse dance -- mechanical issues -- everything from how to format your documents, appropriate language, deadlines and the like. You must learn how to research for precedent -- what on-point cases buttress your argument or undermine the argument of your opponent -- and you will need access to a law library or law database like Lexis or West.

3. Your motivation -- how hard are you willing to work? Do you have the time?

4. Your opponent -- is opposing counsel the junior attorney from a lawsuit-mill firm or is s/he prepared and ready to rumble? If the former and you surprise them, can they recover? What does the opponent ask for in discovery and what does the opponent provide in discovery?

5. Your court -- small claims is most simple (you just stand before the judge and tell your story) and state or federal court is more challenging (structure and cost and formality) and somewhat less forgiving for a pro se defendant. Consumers are often naive and think the judicial system and judges exist to find truth and justice and fairness -- they don't. The judicial system exists to provide employment for judges and lawyers.

You are wise to be thinking about the answers to these questions. There are several posters on the board who have an aggressive mindset and encourage litigation. These folks are bright and have some rather novel approaches. These are not strategies that a rookie can easily apply. Unfortunately, those who encourage these aggressive strategies do not "hold hands" or do the work for you. If you think you want to go down that road, you need to begin right away learning how to represent yourself in court -- a to z from drafting complaints and countercomplaints, answers, motions and legal research to find precedent cases to support your position and undermine the position of the opponent. The courtroom is war where each side has the goal of destroying and humiliating the other side and the judge is unpredictable.

I am not saying this is out of reach. It is a lot of work. If you are smart, learn quickly, have the desire and have the time, then you might make parts of the strategy work. The laws of every state are different and what works in one state will not necessarily work in your state -- so you must become "expert" in your state law.

My recurring personal observation is that this aggressive advice is passed out freely with little effort to identify the motivation, talent and resources of the recipient. I think their belief is that you will decide for yourself what you are capable of -- unfortunately, I don't think it always works out that way.

Far too many posters on the board charge off half-cocked without an understanding of the implications and risks of their actions -- and then they are back when something explodes wondering "what do I do now?" or angry when they lost and as a result suffered financially -- the creditor's cost of litigation usually gets added to the judgment and judges have been known to punish "frivolous" cases by awards of legal fees for the prevailing party.

Decide for yourself what makes sense for you. You are the only one who knows your ability and desire.

One final thought, I personally suggest that one should at least consider the alternative of bankruptcy before undertaking this task. Bankruptcy is entirely honorable, is clean and often less expensive. Contrary to myth, there is life after bankruptcy and financial recovery is often faster than suffering through judgments and collections.

Good luck to you.

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Fighting takes all the time and talent Deby Guy explains.

Fighting really ONLY MAKE SENSE IF YOU HAVE ASSETS TO PROTECT! If you have no assets, bankruptcy is the easier alternative!

Whether its a "more honorable" alternative is debatable. Both positions are looking to get out from under or escape debt.

The moral consequences between fighting and bankruptcy are fairly equal.

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Im trying to get a motion to dismiss written up, a ca sued me while on active duty and they filed an affidavit of non military status. I am trying to type it up but have no clue what to do. The debts are from 2000 about 1200 dollars in doctor bills. I was in Iraq on the court date and they got a default. I have no clue how to write this up, they are reporting to the CRA's and the judgment is on my CR.

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Thanks for all the answers.

i'm not looking to become a self-made lawyer. or someone to do my work for me. or be spoon fed (as i've read on here)

i just wanted to hear about other peoples experience in court when dealing with lawsuits by collection agencies.

i especially like the ones where we win!

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