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TRIAL SUCCESS! My start to finish Midland Story.

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After struggling with this debt collection nightmare with Fred Hanna and Midland Funding for over a year it all ended today with a judgment in favor of me, the defendant! The road was long and included the dunning phase, a case filed in magistrate court (dismissed without prejudice) and then re-filed a few months later in State court. Because I was also suffering being laid off from my job, I can’t even explain the fear and stress I experienced during this whole process. But I really want to share this experience, because it has ended with a positive result – Midland abused the legal process and tried to bully money out of me without a shred of evidence, and in the end, both midland and Hanna's laughable attorneys looked like fools.




Prior to Midland filing the suit in Magistrate Court, I received a “dunning” letter from Frederick J. Hanna & Associates, P.C., a debt collection law firm here in Georgia. The dunning letter contained such little information about this debt they were pursuing on behalf of their client, whom I’d never heard of and I seriously was scared and confused. I started researching and uncovered the treasure trove of information regarding the “dunning” process. I sent a request for validation of the debt to Hanna (within the 30 day period) and immediately checked my credit reports. I found that Midland Funding was reporting this debt to all my credit reports under the name “Midland Credit Management”. Again, shocked and confused, I sent Midland a letter Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested and asked for a validation of this debt and confirmation of Fred Hanna’s representation of them in this debt collection pursuit.

I never received a response from Midland whatsoever. Fred Hanna’s office sent what they called validation of the debt, which was basically a recitation of what their first letter said, giving me no more information than before. So, from the get go, I was very suspicious and skeptical of both Fred Hanna and of Midland because I assume if one did in fact own a debt and was pursuing it, they wouldn’t be so secretive about the details of the debt. (I didn’t know at the time that the actual information junk debt buyers or debt collectors had about any debt they pursued was minimal).


Approximately, one month later, Midland Funding LLC filed a “suit on account” in Magistrate Court against me in Georgia for a little over $6,000. No documents whatsoever were attached to the complaint. They titled themselves “Midland Funding LLC Assignee of Chase Bank USA NA” as the Plaintiff. At this point I was pretty ticked off because I had tried to find out more information about this “debt” I supposedly owed but got so little from Hanna and NOTHING from the actual company who was supposedly owed this debt and worse, they were reporting negatively to my credit report!

My train of thought is, if some stranger knocked on your front door and claims to be collecting a debt for Joe Blow, which you may or may not have owed years ago, would you just start writing the check? I’d hope not! There’s so many fraudsters out there today so it was not unreasonable that I asked for some kind of documentation to ease any of my concerns.

So, in Magistrate court I filed an answer and the process was fairly simple and relaxed. I basically said that I didn’t believe I owed this debt and this company is unknown to me and unresponsive to requests for information. It was scheduled for a “trial” about three months after it was filed. I say “trial” in quotes because it was anything but a real trial. It was basically two lawyers from Fred Hanna’s office sitting at two tables with a huge stack of files calling people up one by one to “talk”. The judge is present but pretty much only to put a signature on the settlement agreements or dismissals after the talks. By the way, these were all debt buyer cases, not original creditor cases. I watched person after person go to have their “talk”, none of which questioned the legitimacy of the debt whatsoever, That just boggled my mind and it became apparent why I never got any answers from Fred Hanna or Midland – why do the extra work when we don’t have to? After all 95% of the cases in this particular jurisdiction are default judgments. The lawyers used phrases like, “this kind of thing never goes away…”, “let’s just go ahead and take care of it now…” and make it seem like any settlement offer with the slightest discount is a huge favor to the defendant so they feel pressured to just agree. Only one person of all the defendants there had a lawyer. There was some quiet whispering between the two lawyers and I doubt any agreement actually resulted, it was probably just dismissed.

When it was my turn to go up, the first thing I said was “Before I will make any agreement whatsoever, I would like to see some kind of documentation that you own this account.” That just messed this lawyer’s streak of “consent judgments” and he immediately got aggressive. He put a credit card statement in front of me and said “isn’t this your debt? Didn’t you live at this address?” I stuck to my guns, told him “So what if I did, I asked for proof, not this.” At that point, we had gotten a little loud I think, and it he flatly said, “Fine, we’ll just re-file this.” I said, “Great, and maybe then you’ll actually provide the proof I’ve been asking for this whole time.” So the judge signed off on the Dismissal without Prejudice. While walking out of the court room, the next defendant after me started raising hell with the lawyer. Apparently, I started a chain reaction.

[Continues next...]

Edited by MustangGrrL027
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The exact day my boyfriend and I began moving into our new home over an hour away, I found myself being served by a sheriff’s deputy for a newly filed case (at our old home). This time, Fred Hanna and Midland filed the case in State court instead of Magistrate. This was approximately two months after the Magistrate case was dismissed. I started doing my researched and became pretty scared about the idea of going into a state court and representing myself, as it was not relaxed like Magistrate court. Minor errors could easily result in judgment against me. I assume that’s why they re-file in state court. I did a ton of research and learned about the discovery process. I knew this was what I needed to do in order to make them prove they actually own the debt.

Under the pressure of not truly understanding discovery, I hired an attorney to file my answer and my discovery motions. Being unemployed, coughing up hundreds of dollars was an incredibly hard endeavor. A counterclaim was also filed with my answer under Georgia’s 9-15-14 statute for “frivolous litigation”. Unfortunately, this particular lawyer was a mistake, and I ended up without representation shortly after the answer was filed. (It’s a long story about the lawyer). So I had to learn discovery myself, and I did. I will provide copies of my discovery soon.


Interesting note: I am unsure why, but the Plaintiff did not do any discovery of their own for this case. In almost all the cases I had studied, they did propound discovery upon the defendant.

The first thing I filed in discovery was the Request for Production of Documents. I asked for documents such as the proof of assignment, any contracts, agreements, terms of those agreements, complete accounting of balance allegedly owed, etc. Their responses included “General Objections”, which pretty much said they objected to everything I asked for using every objection imaginable. Their specific answers were totally evasive – they referred to irrelevant case law as an answer, they objected for ridiculous reasons to simple relevant requests, and they refer to documents they provided as specific answers to some requests.

The documents they actually provided included an incomplete set of credit card statements, a letter from Midland supposedly sent to me regarding notification of assignment (whatever, I never received this!) and an “account statement” from MCM on behalf of Midland and a Bill of Sale supposedly between Midland Funding and Chase Bank.

Interestingly, MCM’s “Account Statement” included an interest rate completely different from any rate on the credit card statements they provided.

The letter which was supposedly given to me after the “sale” of the account to Midland basically said that Chase assigned Midland its rights through sale of the account to Midland and MCM is the servicer of this debt.

The Bill of Sale did not reflect any particular account but was merely an exhibit to some master agreement, where Midland and Chase engaged in some kind of sale of 13,000 accounts.

The credit card account statements were not a complete accounting of the balance they were suing for, in fact, almost 1/3 of the amount could not be accounted for. Also, they had varying interest rates.

No credit card account agreement was ever provided.

In requests for documents like contracts or agreements, they referred to a Georgia case “Davis vs. Discover” which basically stated that in Georgia, the use of the credit card is evidence of an agreement and no contract is necessary for proof of agreement. However, the Discover case is an original creditor case seeking repayment for its own account (no assignment or junk debt buyers involved). In addition, Discover had two witnesses at trial, multiple affidavits made with true personal knowledge from Discover employees, a full set of account statements, a credit card account agreement (terms and conditions), and verification that no billing statements had been returned to sender via mail.

A few days after receiving these discovery responses to my request for production of documents request, I propounded Interrogatories and Request for Admissions. Many of these cross-referenced the production of documents requests.

For example, there was a Request for Admission that read “You cannot provide a complete accounting for the debt supposedly owed” and there was an Request for Production of documents that asked for the documents providing a complete accounting too. They denied the request for admissions but still did not provide me a complete set of statements totaling the amount they were seeking.

One of the most relevant questions in the Interrogatories was “Is MIDLAND FUNDING LLC the direct assignee of CHASE BANK (USA), N.A.? Or, is MIDLAND FUNDING LLC an assignee of an assignee? If there are additional assignees, identify each assignee, their business address, and telephone number.”

In the Interrogatories, I also asked for witness(es) being called at trial, person(s) responsible for books and records of this account, and for the identity of any person who has knowledge of the facts relation to this lawsuit. They responded with total garbage and actually said they would be provided a witness from “Washington Mutual”. What? Where did Washington Mutual Come from? This was supposedly a Chase account. In addition, I had a Request for Admission that stated “CHASE BANK (USA), N.A. has no direct knowledge of the litigation initiated by Midland Funding LLC on the account that is in dispute, and that no employee or agent of CHASE BANK (USA), N.A. directly requested any employee or agent of Midland Funding LLC to initiate any legal action against Defendant.” Which they denied but didn’t provide any Chase employees identities responsive to my Interrogatories either.

The 1st Interrogatory I asked stated, “State the name(s), business address(es) and job title(s) or capacity(ies) of the officer(s), employee(s) or agent(s) answering or providing any information used to answer each Interrogatory.” The lawyer for Fred Hanna who responded to discovery requests stated himself as the person answering requests and stated his title as “Direct Assignee”. What? I asked for identities for other assignees in these same questions and this certainly wasn’t mentioned!

I asked for all exhibits they proposed to introduce at trial. They said they were still gathering evidence and would supplement their responses when and if they received more information.

Interrogatories are supposed to be answered under oath and required a verification which is signed by the client. No such verification was provided.

They claimed objections of “Privileged information” but did not provide me with a privilege log regarding any documents responsive to my requests being withheld because they are attorney/client privilege or work product.

I think you see where I’m going with these discovery requests. They were churning out total garbage to relevant requests. How was I supposed to be able to prepare for trial without having any legitimate information about their claim?

I studied up on “Motion to Compel” and “Sanctions”. So, I sent back all discovery requests with an explanation of the prior deficiencies in their answers. I asked them to re-do and correct their discovery responses and gave them 30 days to do it (which was very generous on my part). In addition, I asked for a “Meet and Confer” if they were unable or unwilling to correct and supplement those previous responses.

:idea: By the way, all correspondence is sent certified mail with return receipt requested!!!!!!!

Continues Next...

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Around two weeks after they received my request for corrections, I gave them a call to speak to either attorneys of record to find out if they were going to be responding or if we needed to schedule a conference. I was totally shocked and frustrated that neither attorney had voicemail boxes for me to leave a message, and worse employees at Fred Hanna’s office told me that one lawyer on the case “Doesn’t take phone calls” and the other “Just signs the paperwork”. They insisted that they were able to help me and started asking for all kinds of sensitive information, including my social security number. I refused, obviously, and told them it was necessary to speak to an actual attorney of record regarding a possible meet and confer. The only option I was given was to leave a message with a “case manager”, so I did, requesting for an attorney of record to call me.

At that point, I was totally irritated. What a waste of my time to deal with this! So, I sent them a follow up letter reminding them of their deadline to correct and supplement their discovery responses and again offered them a meet and confer. (I live no more than 25 minutes away from their office by the way). I also mentioned that I couldn’t reach them by phone because of their refusal to take phone calls or the fact they just sign paperwork. I warned that I would be moving for sanctions if nothing was done by the deadline.

So mere days before the deadline, I get a phone call from the same lawyer who handled the magistrate case. He wanted to know what exactly was wrong with their responses. So, I spent almost an hour on the phone with him, giving it to him pretty much line by line. He said he did remember this case from Magistrate court. He said they would not be fixing their “General Objections” because those are to “cover [their] asses” and that no privilege log would be provided. He started to talk about how he was going to prove this case with the Bill of Sale, a witness from Midland Funding (who they never identified) and with a “Boarding Packet” which detailed the actual individual accounts purchased by Midland (which was never provided to me either). He agreed that within one week I would have in hand the correct and supplemented discovery response including this new information about the witness and boarding packet. No response ever came.

I drafted my motion to compel and the very day I was going to drive over an hour to file at the court house, this same lawyer calls. He called to tell me “Midland no longer wants to pursue you”. I told him the fact that I was about to leave to file my motion to compel. He said he begged Midland to go forward with this one, but they didn’t want to. (Note; its likely they would have just dismissed this case too like last time but there was one problem: I had a counterclaim and that would still stand even if they dismissed). He wanted me to sign this long settlement agreement which wound basically waive ALL my consumer rights to ever sue midland, any of its affiliated companies, or its attorneys. In addition, it included a confidentiality agreement and, reading between the lines, I would have ended up getting a 1099 for taxes purposes and pay taxes on the total amount they were claiming I had received! In exchanged, they offered to delete any credit reporting they had done and would simply drop their claim. But they refused to budge on offering me any amount in regards to my expenditures incurred or to my counterclaim. I refused.

The next day I filed a “Motion to Compel” or in the alternative “motion in limine”. Attached to these motions were all my exhibits: all my discovery requests, proof of mailing/receipt, and their responses to my requests. I also included copies of the letter I sent trying to contact them about the meet and confer. The Motion in compel was very detailed regarding the evasive and incomplete answers provided. It asked that the plaintiff be ordered to produce the documents and provide answers to discovery. It also asked that because Georgia’s Civil Practice Act says “an evasive and incomplete answer is to be treated as a failure to answer…” that their request for admissions be deemed admitted. I also requested any and all sanctions for their discovery abuses.

I did a “…in the alternative…” Motion in Limine telling the judge if he didn’t feel that a motion to compel was appropriate (because there was already a bench trial date set for this case and delay would not be effective). The Motion in Limine basically asked the judge to give them their wish not to produce any evidence, by precluding them from introducing any evidence or witnesses at trial that were not produced during discovery.

I hand delivered copies of these motions to Fred Hanna’s office and left a message informing them as well. These motions had not been ruled upon yet as of the morning of trial.

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I showed up early and ready for trial. When my case was called during calendar call, a lawyer I didn’t recognize stood up and announced that there was a lawyer for the plaintiff this case here and that he was just in another courtroom at the moment. Eventually, that lawyer did show up, and I didn’t have a clue who he was. I approached him and asked if he was representing the plaintiff. When went outside the courtroom, he introduced himself as a lawyer for fred hanna. Apparently, he got this case kind of last minute. He basically asked me what he could do to settle this, and that his client wanted to dismiss. I told him that was great and all but there was no way I was would sign a release of my rights or have to pay taxes on this amount. Also, I reinforced that I had incurred expenses because of their frivolous pursuit of this allegedly owed debt and my requests for attorneys fees and expenses were very reasonable (under $1000) and there’s no reason that his client should refuse this request. Unfortunately, Midland wasn’t going to agree, so we were going to trial. This guy was actually pretty understanding of my position. He did have copies of the outstanding motions in this case so he knew what I was going to ask the judge to rule on. Not to mention he did not even have a witness present.

The plaintiff’s lawyer and I agreed to have the case taken down (a transcript of trial by the court reporter) and that we’d split the costs for that. I wanted to be sure that if I did lose, there was a transcript so that I could appeal and all objections were on record. So we got called up – I had a huge trial notebook with every single piece of correspondence from dunning phase to present, all discovery requests/responses marked as exhibits, I was ready! I had copies of case law I was prepared to cite and applicable statutes too.

I stood up right before the Plaintiff began his case and said “Your Honor, I just wanted to put it on the record that there are outstanding motions to be ruled upon and that I am requesting a hearing for attorneys fees and expenses at the close of this trial” (In order to convert my counterclaim to a legitimate motion, I had to move for it during the trial). I sat down.

The plaintiff’s attorney pulled out these two massive file folders and kind of looked at them funny for a few seconds, sighed, and then said, “Your Honor, the plaintiff rests.” The courtroom got silent, like, what the hell? The judge kind of looked puzzled too. I let just a few seconds pass to grasp what he just did, and before the judge could say anything, I said “Your honor, I move for a directed verdict”.

If you don’t know what a ”directed verdict” is, it’s something a defendant can request at the close of the plaintiff’s presentation of their case that asks the judge to rule in the defendant’s favor because the plaintiff has failed to present enough evidence to support their case. Basically the judge can rule in the defendants favor right then and there, concluding that the plaintiff did not have sufficient evidence for their claim and the defendant wins. If the judge denies it, the trial goes on and the defendant then presents their case.

The plaintiff’s lawyer mentioned how they wanted a dismissal. The judge said “No, I’m going to rule in favor of the defendant”. Then I moved for the hearing on the attorney’s fees. The plaintiff’s lawyer insisted that I had to provide a 30 day notice for this frivolous litigation claim (which is actually a requirement of a different statue) and that I couldn’t move forward with this claim because it wasn’t a valid counterclaim. Luckily, I countered that by saying “No 30 day requirement, that’s a different statute” and “Your honor, I have properly moved this court for the attorneys fees, therefore it is valid claim” I had the statue information in front of me in addition to case law supporting my position. The judge said that he was not going to dismiss my counterclaim and informed me of the procedure to go forward. (Basically for this statute, a separate hearing must occur and the attorney who represented me must under oath testify that his fees for reasonable, and the plaintiff can object to the fees. I can move for this hearing by motion within 45 days of the entry of the judgment.). I honestly can’t imagine how they would prove they were not frivolously litigious – they file lawsuits to just dismiss them if contested. I will keep everyone updated on the outcome of that hearing.

From all my research on cases in this particular court, even this particular judge, I couldn’t find any bench trials for midland funding that didn’t result in default, a dismissal, or a consent judgment. Most “wins” by midland that were default or consent were done on summary judgments. So, a judgment in the favor of the defendant, is really unusual! Especially, a pro se!

Whoohooo! I never thought I’d make it this far – but here’s what can happened if you are persistent and learn the rules of the court and the laws of your state. Get informed, get organized, and get prepared! Go to your local courthouse and review the files of closed cases where something positive occurred for the defendant or review the motions submitted by the opposing counsel.

:twisted:Play devil’s advocate and think about their case and ways to counter it. Good luck to you.

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I was totally worried about how I would be treated as a pro se. Luckily, everyone in that courtroom treated each other with respect. There was one other pro se who went before me but clearly she did not know the rules of the court, how to tender evidence, how to properly testify, and the odds are against you in that arena unless your prepare meticulously. She didn't "tender" her evidence, she got very emotional and with that emotion came lots of "talk". It wasn't necessary for her to continue to talk that much, she didn't help her case that way. She lost, but she really did the very best she could given the circumstances and the judge was respectful of her. The judge listened to what I had to say, which I really appreciated. There was no special treatment for a pro se, which was nice because I wanted to be treated equally to the plaintiff's lawyer and be taken seriously.

The one thing to remember is that you must be assertive, speak up for yourself. You had better believe the plaintiff's lawyer is looking out for the best interest of HIS client so don't let his speaking overrun yours. Speak confidently. Know what you're talking about! Study your case law. Plan for all scenarios.

I prepared myself assuming that all of the plaintiff's evidence would be accepted into evidence, that there would be a witness present, and that I would meet a lot of resistance on my counterclaim. I had carefully studied the rules of evidence and thought of every single objection for EACH piece of evidence, and wrote out an outline for each! I also wrote down reasons the evidence should not be accepted into evidence with supporting details. I had questions prepared to cross examination any witnesses that may have been present. And I had cases printed out with highlighted portions of the relevant parts.

These boards and its members were also instrumental to my success. Whether it was personal experiences in court, references to case law or example pleadings, or just comradery of people in similar bad situations, it certainly helped me. That is way I am doing my best to share my experiences as well.

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Speak confidently. Know what you're talking about! Study your case law. Plan for all scenarios.

I prepared myself assuming that all of the plaintiff's evidence would be accepted into evidence, that there would be a witness present, and that I would meet a lot of resistance on my counterclaim. I had carefully studied the rules of evidence and thought of every single objection for EACH piece of evidence, and wrote out an outline for each! I also wrote down reasons the evidence should not be accepted into evidence with supporting details. I had questions prepared to cross examination any witnesses that may have been present. And I had cases printed out with highlighted portions of the relevant parts.


Your actions are role model behaviour. Anyone who does what you did should get the same results. Unless the judge in a case is bias if a person follows your example with regard to doing research then they should win. In the case of a bias jurist the record is preserved and a person who did your research should win on appeal.

You did some work to win, didn't you?

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Be prepared...don't leave anything to chance or somehow think the judge will be on your side...he/she won't be and it won't happen if you don't make it happen...if you're gonna cite it...write it, know it and understand it!!!!!


And especially thank you for posting this. I read every single word even though I already knew the ending...lol

W T G !!!!!

xdancex xdancex xdancex


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Before I even went in to the courthouse, I was prepared to lose if that would be the fate of the case. I can say that without worry because I was also prepared to win! I thought through the scenarios of why I might lose, how I could avoid certain pitfalls, and how I could preserve the record for appeal with all my objections. It helped to also try and emotionally detach yourself. Everyone else in the courtroom isn't going to cry if they lose, they are their doing their job, what they pretty much do every day (judges, lawyers, etc). I know its a super personal and sensitive subject, but when you are a defendant in a case, your emotions will do you no good! Try and step back from the situation and think logically.

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  • 2 weeks later...

i remember you. i read a lot of your posts during the summer. right away i knew you were going to prevail. you asked a lot of questions and you did your own research. i admire that in a litigant.

im happy. not just because you won but because your preparation got you there. and you were determined. congrats in a major way. your past threads are still great to read. again, congrats! you're buying first round of drinks for everyone!!!!

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I did a “…in the alternative…” Motion in Limine telling the judge if he didn’t feel that a motion to compel was appropriate (because there was already a bench trial date set for this case and delay would not be effective).

The Motion in Limine basically asked the judge to give them their wish not to produce any evidence, by precluding them from introducing any evidence or witnesses at trial that were not produced during discovery.

@MustangGrrL027 !!!

Congratulations !!!

Great Achievement !!!

Your Motion in Limine gave me an idea what I need to do now 50 days before my Trial when the Midland's Atty completely ignored my Discovery Request (Sept 2010) and two follow-up "friendly" "in good faith" reminders (Nov 2010).

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am being sued by Midland and was served on Sunday. I am in Dekalb Cty in GA. My complaint has 6 statements.... how do I respond to the following statements in my answer?

1 - my address;

2 - me agreeing that I entered into a credit card agreement and "received and used the credit card at issue in this action"

; 3 - I breached the credit card agreement and left an outstanding balance of $1,089.74;

4 - "all rights and title to defendant's credit card account were legally assigned to plaintiff in writing";

5 - "despite demand by plaintiff, defendant has failed to pay the amount due on the credit card account"

6 - "defendant is liable to plaintiff for the sum of $1,089.74, plus interest of $.00, plus court costs"

"wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment against defendant in the principal sum of $1,089.74 plus interest of $.00, plus court costs of $76.50

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