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Questions regarding credit card lawsuit process


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I am a recent graduate who is being sued by Citibank(via Zakheim & Associates) in sunny Florida and due a part-time income am defending Pro Se. If anyone would care to answer a few questions regarding the process it would be greatly appreciated. They are as follows:

1. Once you are summoned, I would assume any negotiation with the Plantiff's lawyer would probably be in vain as they are after a Judgement or possibly a settlement during mediation?

2. Once your response to the summons is filed with the court and send a copy to the Plantiff's lawyer. Would it be to a good idea to request a Debt Validation from the Plantiff/Plantiffs attorney?

3. At anytime before your are summoned to appear in court, if a debt validation has not been responded to or has been ignored, are you required to discuss settlement terms with the Plantiff and Mediator?

4. Is there a legimate way to have the case dismissed if your are within the SOL, have been unable to negotiate/work out a payment plan and the Plantiff's attorney has been retained by Citibank?

5. If you are willing to work out a payment plan, is it likely a judgement will be issued against you? When is a judgement issued?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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1. Once you are summoned, I would assume any negotiation with the Plantiff's lawyer would probably be in vain as they are after a Judgement or possibly a settlement during mediation?

Not at all. Many lawyers file lawsuits with the hope that it will inspire debtors to contact them about a settlement. If an agreement can be reached, the lawyer gets money without the effort of proceeding to court; the debtor may be able to avoid having a judgment on his/her credit report. From one perspective, this is a win-win scenario.

2. Once your response to the summons is filed with the court and send a copy to the Plantiff's lawyer. Would it be to a good idea to request a Debt Validation from the Plantiff/Plantiffs attorney?

No. Debt Validation has a specific meaning, and it is what you do when you get a dunning letter (a demand letter) from a Collection Agency. Now that there is a lawsuit, you're playing a whole new ball game in a different arena. You get the other side to produce documents proving their case through the process of Discovery.

3. At anytime before your are summoned to appear in court, if a debt validation has not been responded to or has been ignored, are you required to discuss settlement terms with the Plantiff and Mediator?

First, you don't do "debt validation." (see above)

As I said, the next step is Discovery. It differs from state to state, but usually you are not required to discuss a settlement. Some states, like California, require that you "meet and confer." But that may not have anything to do with a settlement.

4. Is there a legimate way to have the case dismissed if your are within the SOL, have been unable to negotiate/work out a payment plan and the Plantiff's attorney has been retained by Citibank?

Hard to say, but it doesn't seem likely. Your best hope is that they can't come up with the documentation to prove their case. When being sued by an Original Creditor, your chances decrease. You never can tell though; lawyers handling large volumes of cases often botch things up. Also, some lawyers are looking for default judgments, and don't want to spend time slugging it out in court.

5. If you are willing to work out a payment plan, is it likely a judgement will be issued against you? When is a judgement issued?

If you can reach a lump sum settlement, you can probably get the plaintiff to dismiss the case, and there's no judgment. But if you arrange a payment plan, they may insist on a Stipulated Judgment, so that if you don't live up to your side of the agreement, they can go back to the courts to enforce the judgment. In the normal course of events, the two sides exchange Discovery requests and responses, then the judge sets a trial date, then the trial is held and both sides present their cases, then the judge makes his decision. That's when the judgment is issued.

Good luck,

DH

Edited by debtorshusband
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Thanks for the information DH!

Just a follow up what you said, if the a Stipulated Judgement is awarded to the Plantiff, can't the Plantiff say they never recieved a payment and then get a full judgement and garnish your wages?

Also, in regards to Discovery, when does this take place? How do you make a request for discovery? Does something have to be filed with the courts or is this something which you bring up while in court?

Thanks again,

GT

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Welcome to the forum Goodtimes! I'm very new myself but I'll provide my novice knowledge for what it's worth

Thanks for the information DH!

Just a follow up what you said, if the a Stipulated Judgement is awarded to the Plantiff, can't the Plantiff say they never recieved a payment and then get a full judgement and garnish your wages?

I can't speak from experience but I don't think that scenario is very likely if you've actually been making the payments as agreed. If you actually don't make payments as agreed or stipulated then they can absolutely go back to the judge and file an affidavit of default or take other action to pursue a full judgement and pursue other action. It takes time and money to do so however and I don't think they would lie and say you didn't make payments if you actually did.

Of course you should keep detailed records of all payments made. I would recommend paying with means other than your personal checking information.

Also, in regards to Discovery, when does this take place? How do you make a request for discovery? Does something have to be filed with the courts or is this something which you bring up while in court?

Discovery is basically a process of "discovering" and getting a general feel for what evidence and information the opposing side has. Generally it consists of "Requests for Admission" which is basically a list of statements one side sends to the other that must be admitted to, denied, objected to or otherwise responded to in writing. Failure to do so in the time specified can be considered an automatic admission. For example the Plaintiff might send statements such as "Please admit you applied for a BigBank MasterCard #12456789" "Please admit you used the said card to purchase goods and services".

The other big part of the Discovery process are "Requests for Production of Documents". Just like it sounds each side can request various documents from the other party and their employees/agents etc.

Finally there are "interrogatories" which are general questions which can be asked.

Both sides usually have an opportunity so you would respond to their Discovery requests and then also send your own requests for admission, interrogatories, and request for production of documents.

As for how you make your Discovery request you'll have to check the rules in your jurisdiction. Rules concerning Discovery will be found in your local rules of civil procedure. Try googling "Florida rules of civil procedure discovery" or something similar. Also searching this forum will help a LOT!

I have no idea what the rules are in your locality.. but Discovery rules vary greatly from state to state. I believe in some states you simply send your requests and don't even have to file them with the court. In other states you need the court's specific permission to even begin Discovery and then you must format and file everything correctly with the court. I'm sure someone more specific with your state can chime in and help.

I suggest you start out by reading through your applicable rules of civil procedure (or better yet ALL of them). You'll need to know them anyway when you defend pro se. After that google about discovery and search through the tons of great info here. You'll find all kinds of samples and examples to use. I'm pretty much in the middle of Discovery process right now. It can all get overwhelming and scary at times but there is GREAT help here. The only real solution is to read read read and ask questions!

Good luck!

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First, I'm not an expert, so I may get some details wrong. Hopefully, what I say is correct in the big-picture sense.

A Stipulated Judgment is not awarded by the judge. If you agree to a payment plan, the plaintiff will prepare a Stipulated Judgment paper and ask you to sign it, then he will file it with the court. The court will then remove the case from their calendar, until such time as the plaintiff returns for enforcement. Regarding your concern that the plaintiff will lie about receiving payments, that's why you'll want to be able to prove you made payments; pay with cashier's checks for example.

Discovery can take place anytime after you file an Answer. You could send something right away, or you could wait for the plaintiff to send you stuff. It's possible some states may make you "make a request for Discovery." Not in California. Here, you just send your stuff to the plaintiff. They are not filed with the court. Typically, you send each other:

- Requests for Admissions

- Interrogatories

- Request for Production of Documents

Search on these items and you will find a wealth of information.

Each side has a limited period of time to send their responses. Check for your state rules. You send your response to the other side only.

See, the purpose of Discovery is for each side to show their evidence to the other. The court hopes one side or the other will give up when they see what the other side has; the court hopes to never have to hear the case. If neither side gives up, the case goes to trial, then each side presents their evidence to the judge, and the judge make his decision. In order to use a piece of evidence in court, they have to produce it for you during Discovery. If they try to use something they haven't previously provided, you have the right to object to it.

Good luck,

DH

PS SingeDadJames and I have posted nearly the same thing. I didn't mean to be redundant; we were just typing at the same time. DH

Edited by debtorshusband
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