Lledfor7

Being sued by Lazega&Johanson in GA

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So I had an old credit card that I went delinquent on when I was in college, it was opened in 2008 and quite confident I stopped making payments in '09... Well I've moved several times, and more or less ignored any and all calls, going as far to change my service provider and my phone number... Anyway, June 27 a sheriff came knocking on my door... I had been served. They provided 1 bill of sale from Citibank to the first CA, then from that CA to lazega&johanson. Along with what looks like a photo copy of my account showing the balance, name etc from July 2010. So I responded with a letter asking for proof that I owed THEM for the debt, and they just sent me back literally the SAME 3 documents today.

I am planning on showing up to court pro se, with the defense that I owe Citibank and I NEVER entered into a contract with them in anyway so they have no standing... Will this work? Any tips? I don't have the funds to settle as I have a small child, and a disabled mother who I help pay her bills...

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Lazega and Johanson are evil.  I used to live in GA and they tried to dun me and I DV'd them and they took NINE months to respond.  They used to be in the business legally of representing HOAs and foreclosing on people's homes and condos over late fees.  When the real estate bubbly ruptured and hemorrhaged in GA they changed to debt collection.  They rank right up there with Hanna's firm.

 

I seriously doubt they bought the debt as they are not a junk debt buyer.  They are most likely representing the junk debt buyer who DID buy your debt from Citi.

 

The first and foremost important thing is what county are you in?  Some of the counties are suitable for pro-se defense others are more difficult.

 

The one thing to know regarding them related to the GA business records laws.  They are required to send you a notice of the opportunity to inspect the documents they intend to use as evidence.  You MUST go to their firm and do this otherwise you lose your right to object to them being entered.  One poster on this board learned that the hard way.  There is NO discovery, requests for admissions, or interrogatories in Magistrate Court so you need not worry about that.

 

Post back with the county and we can help you more.

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It was originally in Cobb, but they sent a request after I was served to have it transferred to Polk where I currently reside

 

Contact a consumer attorney ASAP.  Filing in the wrong venue/county is a FCDPA violation and you can probably get them to dismiss with prejudice to drop the counter claim.

 

You can use naca.net or call Steve Koval or Skaar and Feagle.  They will do an initial consultation for free.  

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Even though the magistrate has already approved it to be transferred? Sorry I just didn't know, they have prob been hunting me down a while and got

Lucky that I have moved back in with my mother in the last couple months...

So the "I don't have a contract with you" defense won't work in this case?

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Even though the magistrate has already approved it to be transferred? Sorry I just didn't know, they have prob been hunting me down a while and got

Lucky that I have moved back in with my mother in the last couple months...

So the "I don't have a contract with you" defense won't work in this case?

 

Transferring it to the correct district does not undo the FCDPA violation.  The law firm has a legal duty to ensure they are suing you in the correct county BEFORE they file.  Bona fide error does not apply to their conduct when the file in the wrong county because they do not know where you are.  

 

The law firm is simply representing the JDB.  The court will not be looking for a contract between you and Lazega and Johanson.  You will need to attack the Plaintiff's standing to sue.  WHO is the JDB that Citi sold the account to?  (collection agencies don't sue on debts they just do the hassling.  Junk debt buyers buy the account and step into the shoes of the original creditor)

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Also I had heard it was illegal for them to put the collections acct on and off my credit report... The last time this was even on my credit report was July of 2013 when they took it off...

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Also I had heard it was illegal for them to put the collections acct on and off my credit report... The last time this was even on my credit report was July of 2013 when they took it off...

 

You heard wrong.  As long as they report accurately they can keep the trade line there.  Many now pull the trade line before they sue to reduce the chances of a FCDPA counter claim.  

 

Unifund is most likely the Plaintiff but look at the summons from the court.  It will list who exactly is suing you.

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It is Unifund, sorry for the delay in response... Polk county magistrate court sent me something today, informing that there was still time for me to

File an answer and whatnot... Where can I find info about the possible violation they've already committed??

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You will need to answer the suit.  Contact a consumer attorney at www.naca.net to discuss a FCDPA violation.  Two recommendations (and they do not have to be in Polk) are Skaar and Feagle or Steve Koval.

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Thank you, I have submitted an email to

Steve Koval, and will be placing a phone call to him in the morning. It would be a blessing to have this in my past...

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Contacted Skaar & Feagle, they took me as far as a free initial consult. I went up to the courthouse and made my answer last Thursday. When I went, the clerk told me that had I not responded they were actually going to tell the law firm to send $50 more to have me served properly, with a POLK county suit in Polk not a cobb, as he had already conferred with the judge, and they said it was obviously VERY confusing where I was even supposed to make my answer.

So in the answer I denied liability to L&J for payment, cited the wrongful service issue, and disputed the amount.

Now I have a court date for sept 10.

Any tips on how or what to do now or how to beef up my defense so I can walk out without paying a dime???

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He informed me to go file my answer ASAP, and he said that "it's sounding good" that the clerk mentioned about them having me re served appropriately. He referred me to another atty more local to me, citing that hiring his help would unfortunately not make financial sense since it's such a low amount. Contacted that atty, and though he said he'd offer an initial free consult, I have him the gist of the situation and asked for any help he'd give me, he of course told me he wouldn't help me with building my defense or my pleadings. So I have until the 10th to make sure my defense is solid.

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  It sounds like the lawyers you consulted don't think you have a solid FDCPA claim, but as I said in my PM, you may want to get a few other opinions.  There are a lot of consumer lawyers in GA, and rates in a credit card defense vary.  You can do it pro se, but you will need to study and work at it.  There are a lot of GA threads here.  Look in the search box on upper right side and type in Georgia. Also,  @NormInGeorgia was successful in defending himself. He may want to chime in here.

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You may find the info here to be useful. This is dated before the new GA Rules of Evidence change.  Still, it should give you some guidance.  This is from a post by ASTMedic:

 

 Jill Sheridan fought and won a similar credit card law suit in Gwinnet, Georgia against Midland Funding. She has posted tons of documents she used for her win on the following link:  http://www.scribd.co...winnett-Georgia  

 

Yours being a Georgia case, and virtually the same lawsuit, these templates should be extremely helpful for case law, procedures, and how to generate the correct forms and responses. 

 

You can also do a Google search for, Midland Funding vs Jill Sheridan and obtain more specific information from various other links. 

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@Lledfor7  :

 

Read through these other threads.  

 

http://www.creditinfocenter.com/community/topic/324478-fighting-midland-in-fulton-county-georgia/  

 

http://www.creditinfocenter.com/community/topic/324381-beat-midland-this-morning/#entry1302927

 

I think it will be very helpful to you.  It sounds like you have a typical JDB case and should be able to handle it fine pro se.  Just do the reading and make notes and don't feel intimidated by the attorney.  It is all just a game to them.  

 

As for the specific FDCPA violation, I don't know enough about that to give any specific thoughts on that.  But you could do just add a simple counterclaim under the same magistrate case citing the single violation (you probably need to find some examples on the boards here to get the wording correct) and if the attorney is dumb enough to not dismiss with prejudice, then you might get lucky and get a judge who will not only dismiss their claim (after you explain they have no proof of the assignment of the debt) but will also give you $1000 for their FDCPA violation.    

 

But ultimately, your goal is probably just a mutual dismissal with prejudice so you do not have to present your arguments to the judge at all.

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Thank you all for all your help, I will be reviewing all of these posts, to begin building my defense. I guess I should go to the courthouse to file my counter claim? I wrote about the violation on my answer that I filed, but I didn't enter a counter claim?

By the way, like I had mentioned in my first post, I've changed my number multiple times (3)to be exact, to avoid these guys. The number associated with the credit card account originally was my very first, I was reading about "skip tracing" the other day, is that something I can utilize as well? Just wondering...

Every day I'm feeling a little more confident about this whole situation, but I won't feel perfect until this is all locked away and done!

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So I have been reviewing the bills of sale included in the paperwork I was served with, (which is the same 3 pieces of paper they sent when I DVed them), and nowhere on them is my name, acct #, NOTHING. The only thing I worry about is the copy of 1 credit card statement. Should I send a demand for particulars to them? Will that help my case?

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You cannot do discovery for cases in Magistrate Court. No BOP, no ROGS, no RFAs.  Do not waste your time.  I would argue they could have retrieved that statement from ANYWHERE.  Their having it does not mean you owe THEM.

 

File the counter claim for the FCDPA violation.  It is a strict liability statute and they do not get a bona fide error defense on this one.  It is the Plaintiff's responsibility to ensure they file in the correct court BEFORE they file not once the court backs up the defense's assertion is is the wrong jurisdiction.

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Okay, I will definitely file the counter claim, even if it is just to get them to dismiss.

ALSO, The bills of sale, I just noticed, they both are from last year, march 25 for the first & nov 9 for the second. Reason I mention it is I know for a FACT that unifund "owned" the debt prior to nov 9, as the last time this debt was reported on my credit report was when THEY (unifund) pulled it off on July 24,2013....

Could I have found a hole in their bucket???

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Okay, I will definitely file the counter claim, even if it is just to get them to dismiss.

ALSO, The bills of sale, I just noticed, they both are from last year, march 25 for the first & nov 9 for the second. Reason I mention it is I know for a FACT that unifund "owned" the debt prior to nov 9, as the last time this debt was reported on my credit report was when THEY (unifund) pulled it off on July 24,2013....

Could I have found a hole in their bucket???

 

MAYBE.  If the debt has been sold more than once the longer the train of custody gets the harder it is to prove.  Them pulling it off your CR does not help.  Many of the JDBs now do this before they sue to avoid FCRA and FCDPA counter claims.  

 

What did the lawyer(s) say?

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One lawyer I spoke with gave me "it's sounding good" in his initial consult, another told me basically unless my defense was solid I would prob end up having to settle, I have plans to speak with one more on Monday as well. Trying to get an array of opinions here counsel wise... None have jumped on the FDCPA violation though... Is there somewhere I can reference the actual "jargon" if you will, especially so I will know what to say in the counterclaim??

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. None have jumped on the FDCPA violation though... Is there somewhere I can reference the actual "jargon" if you will, especially so I will know what to say in the counterclaim??

 

I wonder why they have not "jumped on the FDCPA violation?"  If you really have one, that would mean they would get their attorneys' fees paid, and you would get statutory damages and/or a dismissal.  The latter happened recently to another GA OP.

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