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Sign stipulated judgement or try to arbitrate?


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Hi all,

In June I received a summons and complaint, though one not actually filed with the courts yet (that's allowed in Washington). Instead of providing my answer in 20 days (stupid, I know), I worked out a payment plan with the law firm representing the OC. I have made three payments so far. They have now sent me a stipulation for judgement to sign. It does include the payment agreement terms, the amount, due date, etc. However, I don't want to sign it. I'm trying to avoid any judgements.

My question is if I don't sign it, will they have to serve me a summons again, or will I just have to keep an eye on if it gets scheduled for court seeking a default judgement? If they do file with the courts, will I have a chance to appear and then possibly exercise my right to arbitration?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. They want me to sign and return the stipulation by Sept. 7.

Pickles

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Taking a judgment is never in your interest.

You are better writing a check to pay now, then taking a judgment.

Arbitrate, meaning under the terms of credit card agreement, right?

What does credit card agreement say?

Arbitrate, under terms of court procedure, is rarely good thing for consumer.

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Thanks for the response. It was a line of credit and it does have an arbitration rider to the agreement. So based on what I've read from your other posts, I'm wondering if exercising my right to arbitrate under the terms of the agreement would be to my advantage. I'm hoping that they would just allow me to make my payments as we've agreed rather than go through arbitration.

The rider says either side can request arbitration, and if I initiate, I'll pay the first $100 in fees, and the lender will pay the rest. There's more of course.

Stupid idea or a possibility?

Pickles :roll:

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$100 is not that much to spend to get more leverage to negotiate.

Arbitration puts down a huge roadblock for them. Once you do that, they may be more negotiable.

Who's the arbitration provider in the contract? If its only AAA or NAF, that will REALLY, REALLY make things complicated for them. IT WILL GET YOU TREMENDOUS LEVERAGE! Because you both will need to come to an agreement on an alternate provider OF ARBITRATION, per the contract language.

I don't know about you, but it takes me six months just to think about and research their alternate suggestions. Then another couple months to write them back saying "unacceptable."

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Trueq,

The rider allows for use of any of the three: AAA, NAF, or JAMS.

Should I send the law firm a letter telling them I'm not going to sign the stipulation, however that I do agree to the payment plan, and if they insist on seeking a default judgement, that I hearby notify them that I will be electing arbitration? Or would that be seen as a threat and bring bad juju down on me?

Also, if I proceed with electing abrtration, do I send a copy of this notice to the courts, even though the courts don't have my name anywhere in their system? As I had mentioned before, the summons has not been filed with the courts. Seems strange that courts would receive a letter from me with no case reference or anything.

Again, thanks so much for all replies and suggestions.

Pickles xdancex

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They probably don't realize NAF and AAA are out of business and will waste a ton of time trying to file with the guys they know will screw you (ran into debt attorney other day, had no idea AAA and NAF were refusing credit card cases.)

JAMS has a "minimum standard of consumer fairness" which can be worse than court for them in some circumstances!

I would not pay, settle for a judgment, or make a payment plan.

Demand arbitration first.

Then make an offer to settle the entire debt for 20% of the total amount, see what they say. I bet they take it. Arbitration will cost them big bucks in arbitration fees alone!

Use arbitration to get negotiating leverage!

If negotiating breaks down, they have to arbitrate, that is a big task if you object to arbitrator choice, location, demand hearing in your hometown, a 3- arbitrator panel, the more complicated set of JAMS rules, and demand full discovery. Even if they get through all that and get an arbitration award, it means nothing. They have to confirm in court as a judgment. You can still negotiate at that point too! You could always hire a good NCLC attorney to oppose arbitration confirmation.

You have an opportunity to set big roadblocks.

Drop anvul on their head, then negotiate.

Don't negotiate after they dropped the anvul on your head. Are you Bugs Bunny or Elmer Fudd? Make them Elmer Fudd.

Edited by trueq
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I wonder, though, if the fact that the OP had already entered into a payment agreement and has made three payments will negatively affect their position (meaning the OP, not the attorney)? Pickles, was your payment agreement oral only? When you agreed to the payment plan, were you told that the suit would be dropped? My concern is that the attorney could come back and use the fact that you made payments as an "admission" to the debt. Please, someone else feel free to chime in here....:)

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I wonder, though, if the fact that the OP had already entered into a payment agreement and has made three payments will negatively affect their position (meaning the OP, not the attorney)? Pickles, was your payment agreement oral only? When you agreed to the payment plan, were you told that the suit would be dropped? My concern is that the attorney could come back and use the fact that you made payments as an "admission" to the debt. Please, someone else feel free to chime in here....:)

Who cares? :dunno: It matters not. The contract they wish to rely on is the same contract and he can use the same clause to bar any suit by them. IF he wants to pay he can, if on the other hand he wants to play it their way which is to invoke the terms of the contract then he can do that. He didn't write it they did - too bad they drafted it in such a sloppy way that it can now bite them on the rear end. You think with all those legal fees they paid they would done better, or perhaps as normal we had an attorney use a boiler plate document. Oh well perhaps the Attorneys insurers will be put in the frame at some point. :p

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what does teh stip say?

Some stipulations are "forebearance stips", i.e., you admit service of process, waive an answer and defenses, and the other side agrees not to enter judgment so long as you make payments as agreed. If this is what your stip says, then sign it if you are confident you can make the payments.

Some stips do allow the plaintiff to take a judgment , but then they will says they will not enforce execute it so long as you make the payments. Gives them more security, but if you think you will make all the payments, so what?

If it is the latter, check to see if the court is a "court of record" and if a judgment would be a lien on your real property. If so, you might avoid the stip since the judgment could show on your CR

I might use the arb clause as a bargaining chip to get the kind of stip you want. Using the arb clause as a defensive weapon can be effective, if you know what you are doing, but in most cases it just delays the inevitable.

It seems you are happy with teh amount and the payments. If so, work to get the right stip.

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  • 1 month later...

Update:

Well I sent a letter to the law firm telling them I was not going to sign the stipulation, that I instead was disputing the amount of their claim and electing arbitration. I also included a line in my letter that I would continue with payments and we could just leave it at that with no court action and no arbitration, it was up to them. That was a month ago and I haven't heard word one from them.

Do you think they've decided to just leave it alone and accept my payments (which I'm keeping records of).

Pickles

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