My Midland Case in California: Dismissed Without Prejudice

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Hello Everyone!


I have been lurking around this board since June 2013 when I found out I was being sued by Midland Funding for 1300.00. Yes, 1300.00 - punks. ASTMedic's thread "How I Beat Midland in California" was one of the first pieces of info I found and gave me hope I could fight and win too! I just had court this morning, here's my story:


Sued While Out of the Country


This whole thing was especially stressing and drama because when they filed on me - I was living out of the country for 6 months trying to work remotely and reduce my living costs in a cheaper local than SF, CA where I am from. The process server tried to get my roommate to answer the front door (we live in a large apt complex) at 9 am on a Sunday morning so of course that didn't happen and my roomie called to say he thought someone was trying to serve me. Luckily San Francisco County Civil Superior Court Cases are all available to view online- so I was able to access and read the complaint even though I was abroad. The fact that they couldn't complete the service didn't stop them from filing a false proof of service with a made-up description of my roomie, claiming substituted service.


Tried to Settle


When I found out about this, I still had several months left in my stay abroad and I wasn't going to cut it short for such bs. I didn't have anyone I could ask to stand in line and file papers for me - plus I needed a fee waiver which you can only get by appearing in person. I tried to settle with Midland but they wanted almost 800$ in a lump sum or the total amount in monthly payments - but of course if you do payments then the clock starts on the debt all over again and probably at that point, you've established a "business relationship" with them legally speaking. Plus there was going to still be some reference on my credit report to the case - settlement to avoid a default judgement or something- I don't remember exactly but I know when I pressed for the details on that aspect - it was clear that it really sucked. These people- JDBs- are really disgusting.



A Trick if You're Sued While Abroad or Otherwise Jammed Up


So with my 40 day response deadline (in CA you get 10 extra days if served my mail) ticking down I did a Hail Mary and wrote up some lame answer/denial and fed-ex'd one to the court and one to my roomie so he could mail a copy to Midland and fill out the proof of service, etc. The court rejected my docs and returned them to my address in SF. BUT according to a lawyer I had a free consult with when I returned to SF, sending the docs to Midland made them THINK I had responded and therefore they did not move for the default judgement. That lawyer printed out a general denial for me and sent me down to the court house to file it. So technically I responded well past (about 2 months) the 40 day deadline but since Midland hadn't moved for a default judgement; I was able to file my answer with the court no problem.


The other thing I learned later was process server companies also offer court filing services. So I could've filled out the docs and paid someone to file them on my behalf. For me that was cost prohibitive because I couldn't afford the almost 300.00 dollar court filing fees plus whatever the service fees are. Especially on a 1300.00 case but that's what Midland is counting on, right? 


Other Challenges: Stipulated Ex Parte Motion for Continuance 


My Case Mgmt Conference was set and then cancelled by the court. I had been planning to use the CMC to discuss the fact that I was planning another live/work cheap locale abroad sojourn but I got no chance to do that and received instead a notice of trial date that was set for, wait for it, my birthday. It was also right in the middle of the 7 months I planned to be abroad.


So I pm'd "CALawyer" on this forum and he told me about filing a stipulated ex parte motion to continue trial date. I had to call up the lame legal crew at Midland, spoke with Sarah McElroy Robinson or Robinson McElroy- whatever- who has that bad SoCal accent/habit of answering questions with a question inflection. When I asked her who she was she said, "I'm a lawyer?" and I actually replied, "Are you sure? You don't sound too sure!" I was assuming she was a paralegal they just stuck on the phone. Then I realized later her name was on the docs as one of the lawyer posse.  


Sarah said to send her proof of my travel plans (airline reservation made before the trial date was set) and my stipulation and she'd sign it if she "liked what it said." I figured that meant I shouldn't put in any language like "The Plaintiff has no case" as I had in my CMC statement. I found a copy of a stipulated ex parte from a lawsuit involving Apple online and just took the form of it and citations in it and adapted it to fit my situation.


This was a big hurdle. I didn't know that after I filed the ex-parte that I had to go to a walk-in hearing about it - luckily the court sent the docs back to me with a note about I had to appear. Luckily I was able to appear and they granted the ex parte literally the day before my flight. It was beyond down to the wire.


Back to the States to Fight this BS


So I came back to the States 7 weeks ago specifically for the trial. I had asked them to move the trial to at least 35 days after my date of return so I would have time to file CCp 96, subpoena, MIL, etc. It was extremely tight and I had to really focus and devote the majority of my time to this from the day after I stepped off the plane but I made it.


When I was abroad I had used AstMedic's post and Seadragon's checklist to put all my relevant deadlines on my Google calendar and make my game plan. I wasn't able to work as far out as they had but I was still able to get everything in by deadlines but like I said: it was tight and not ideal and cost me a bit more $ overall.


Pro tip: I wish that at the beginning of all this I had sat down and read thru all the court rules of my local court. Each local is different with filing deadlines. I realized later they had the complete court rules on the website(duh) and luckily found the info about serving a MIL either 10 days prior to trial via mail or 5 days prior via personal service just in time. However, not soon enough to avoid the personal service fees which cost 250.00 dollars. It cost 250.00 because I had to do it twice - because the address that Midland uses on all its court filed docs is actually a PO Box store. And I needed personal service. The PO Box store gave the process server the corporate office address on Midland. It's not on any of their docs filed with the court. Of course, I could've avoided the expense of personal service if I had been able to drop the MIL in the mail to them 10 calendar days before trial but I didn't have it done in time.


Extreme Pro Tip: If you miss the mail deadline and need to serve your MIL via Personal Service the address for Midland's Corp Office is: 


Midland Funding, LLC, 3111 Camino Del Rio North, Penthouse, San Diego, CA 92108


My Docs


I used a combo of AstMedic's and Homeless in CA's docs with some of my own flourishes. I just dropped the whole Target v Rocha case into my MIL. I later learned reading Homeless in CA's "Going to Trial in CA" thread about the page limit for MILs -15- mine was 17- but I didn't have the time to refile it so I let it ride. I should have just attached Target v Rocha as an exhibit and that would've been fine that way in terms of page limit I believe. 


Pro Tip: Search for whoever signs the Affidavit in Lieu of Live Testimony on LinkedIn for their professional profile. The guy who was trying to say he was qualified to vouch for the authenticity of my docs wasn't even employed by Midland when they purchased my debt. His professional profile consisted of a tour of duty in the Army as a paralegal and managing a mobile wireless store. I attached his LinkedIN as an exhibit in my MIL. 


Latin Pro Tip: Motion in Limine - Limine is Latin - pronounced like - "lim-a-nee". I was pronouncing it "Lie-meen". I am still not hooked on phonics. 


Court But No Trial


So today was the trial date. Start time was 9.30 and I was there at 9.20. I signed the calendar on the podium like I saw the lawyers do and noticed Midland's rent -a -lawyer hadn't signed in yet. I was briefly hopeful no one would show but then a guy in a wrinkled, cheap suit comes in, goes to the Podium and then looks around and asks for me. Awesome.


From this thread I knew his request to talk outside was SOP. Now it gets crazy:


I follow him out and he has his arms folded against his chest and he squints at me and says, "So what is your defense?"


Instantly I was offended by his demeanor and attitude and also somewhat baffled he was asking this, like, what do you mean what is my defense? The fact that you have no case, how does that sound? WTF.


So he says, "Why do you think that?"


So now I have no patience and I say, did you read the trial brief or the MIL? He says he's only seen my Answer and isn't aware of the MIL. So I just rapid fire, "I filed a Motion in Limine, you're not going to get the Affidavit in Lieu of admitted and you have no standing. It's a frivolous and malicious lawsuit. Come on, man, why are you trying to play games? You're an attorney and I'm in Pro Per and you're going to try this bs?" and I start moving back to the courtroom. 


He asks if he can ask me another ? and I point to the courtroom and say "You can ask me ?s during the trial." I believe at that point he might have gone to the clerk's office to get the brief or the MIL.


So then he comes back in to the court room and sits in the row behind me in the galley. A few minutes pass and he asks about a settlement. So I turn around and say "Are you f-ing kidding me?' He says he's not and I don't need to be so defensive and let me tell you something.  


So I go off and tell him - "let me tell you something: you should be ashamed of yourself for using your law degree in this manner, clearly if you had gone to any decent kind of law school you'd know you didn't have a case. The people you work for are bottom feeder "finance" people and I use the term finance loosely because filing junk lawsuits based on the fact that 90% of people won't participate in the lawsuit process has nothing to do with finance and instead is an attempt to turn unsecured debit into secured debt and it wastes time and money and clogs up the court system."


Then he tells me he's going to dismiss my case so why be so hostile? So I tell him, "Ha! Don't do me any favors. Yeah, you can dismiss it with prejudice." and turn back around in my chair. 


He says, "Oh, I can't do that." (yeah, really, especially since you're not the fucking judge, asshole)


Then he says, "You must be a really fun person to hang out with."


So I just laugh and say without turning back around, "You know man, you don't need to worry about who I am or what I am like or anything like that. I can tell you what I'm not, I'm not a scummy fucking lawyer. A rent- a-lawyer." 


Then he says, "I just want to know one ? Did you spend the money?" "Did you spend the money because to my personal knowledge.."


So I wasn't going to answer but when I heard the word "personal" I turned a bit in my chair with a smile and said "Objection! You have no personal knowledge of this matter so shut the f*ck up." 


Then the judge came in and they started going down the dockett. Real lawyers with real cases were there and then me and rent-a-lawyer from a 4th tier law school. 


We got called up and Rent-a-Lawyer asks for the dismissal without prejudice because they gave me the "wrong address" on the CCP98.


I ask for dismissal with prejudice because they have no foundation, their docs are hearsay and I don't want them to be able to refile and waste more of my time. The judge asks me if I am saying that someone else owes the debt. I say it's possible and that's why I am fighting this because they are claiming the original creditor was Chase and I never had a Chase card. I realize now I should have pointed out/ asked - "Which of the 7 addresses on the CCP98 was the wrong one?" But with this Judge it might not have helped anyway. 


She tells rent -a- lawyer that they should make sure it's my account before refiling because she's "heard of that happening before" and then dismisses without prejudice.


So, she sucked. She came in with an obvious bias for the Plaintiff in that she was assuming that I owed debt. She definitely didn't give me any special consideration as an In Pro Per. I wouldn't be surprised if she takes bribes/kickbacks - SF Gov't is notoriously corrupt. Why else so friendly to the JDB and opening the court to yet another bs lawsuit to clog the calendar? She clearly wanted to get the case knocked off the dockett as quickly as possible yet wouldn't shut it down for good.   


So I booked it out of there, not too pleased, but happy it was done at least and a real lawyer (old WASPy dude, grey hair, expensive navy suit, etc) follows me out to tell me that I "won in there" and I can file for all taxable costs. I told him I had a fee waiver and ask about filing for the service fees and he said I could ask for that.


Then in the elevator a guy tells me he's a court reporter and he heard my exchange with rent-a-lawyer and he was hoping he got assigned to my trial "ohh fireworks!" and I said, "that guys was bs." and he said, "I could tell." 


So that's story. I'll poke around here for how to file for costs info and see if I get anything. Not holding my breath on that but I will file for it. 


Logic would suggest they won't refile this for 1300.00 but who the f*ck knows. At least my docs are all ready to go if they do. 


This has been a huge waste of time and money. These JDBs should be in jail for what they are doing.


I like how poor, working class and middle class folks are the ones in this country who are expected to have morals and "pay their debts" while rich assholes who run corporations can leverage their companies into untenable positions that spark a global financial crisis and then can get free money from the gov't to bail their asses out. Did those mutherfuckers spend the money? Because from my personal knowledge......



It's fucking bullshit. 



Special thanks and deep gratitude to AstMedic, CALawyer, Seadragon and Homeless in CA.


Fight the Power!


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It cost 250.00 because I had to do it twice - because the address that Midland uses on all its court filed docs is actually a PO Box store. And I needed personal service. 


You needed personal service at the address they provided.  It's their problem if that happens to be a po box store.



The PO Box store gave the process server the corporate office address on Midland. It's not on any of their docs filed with the court. Of course, I could've avoided the expense of personal service if I had been able to drop the MIL in the mail to them 10 calendar days before trial but I didn't have it done in time.


Extreme Pro Tip: If you miss the mail deadline and need to serve your MIL via Personal Service the address for Midland's Corp Office is: 


Midland Funding, LLC, 3111 Camino Del Rio North, Penthouse, San Diego, CA 92108


should work out when you file for costs, but you definitely didn't have to do that.  you're allowed to use an address they provided in ccp 98 - within 150 miles of court.  (i.e., the penthouse in sd wouldn't qualify anyway.)



Fight the Power!



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Great job! That was a real tough spot to be in, out of the country while trying to deal with this - way to navigate your way though it!


About the judge granting dismissal without prejudice: per code (CCP 581) the plaintiff can request a dismissal without prejudice at any time prior to the commencement of trial. If the trial had commenced (opening statements) then one can cite CCP 581 and insist upon dismissal with prejudice.



CRC 3.1700 - "A prevailing party who claims costs must serve and file a memorandum of costs within 15 days after the date of mailing of the notice of entry of judgment or dismissal by the clerk under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.5"


You should get a notice of entry of dismissal in the mail, file your MC-010 within 15 days of the date on the notice. Serve a copy on Midland as well. You paid some hefty process server fees, stick it to Midland one last time and get those back.


Memorandum of Costs

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Thanks for your support, everyone! I filed the MC-10 yesterday although I haven't gotten any notice from the court yet. On Dec 8th the SF Civil Court went to mandated e-filing for a wide variety of cases - In Pro Pers are an exception to the rule (e-filing costs 7.00 or more per filing, depending)- but this means that now they have 1 clerk working the filing window and everyone else is in the back dealing with the e-filing. So I waited an hour to file the doc. I was so happy to get in there thinking, "Hurray! No more trips to the courthouse!" and then the killer line was the ultimate buzz kill. I almost cried. Just feels like even when you "win", you lose. When I finally got to the clerk (the most helpful one there and one who had filed a lot of my docs and the docs that Midland e-filed) I asked her if she saw a lot of Midland cases come thru there and she said ,"oh yeah, thousands." And this is just SF County we are talking about!


These people are con artists in business suits - the most dangerous kind there is. They want to hide behind some kind of moral imperative about paying debts yet have no moral imperative themselves when it comes to exploiting the legal system for their own hustle/ game of 3 card monty - which card is the "witness" hiding under?! 


Anyway, now that I've filed the MC-10-- these Midland losers are gonna pay me? Something tells me it can't possibly be that easy. Is there a time frame they have to do this by? What's been the experience of others? What are the next steps if you have to compel them to pay? Just head down to Camino Del Rio North and start cracking skulls in the Penthouse? 

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Believe it or not, most of the time, they do pay up because if they don't you can to down to San Diego, have a talk with the sheriff, go into their offices, and start to take their servers, computers, and furniture with the courts blessing and media in tow. That would be better than cracking skulls IMHO.

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Today Midland's check to cover my costs arrived in the mail! Yes! 545.09!




So after you beat their lame asses in court definitely file for your costs b/c they will pay and it's a great feeling to hold that check in your hand. Especially when you consider that at the beginning of the odyssey you felt totally fucked and beaten down.


And even more so considering that when I tried to settle with them in the first place - they totally acted like I was fucked while attempting to back me into a corner and accept 1 of 2 extremely lame deals that would've cost serious $ and still f'd my credit report.


I already have a copy of the case filing docket with the case dismissal and my filing for costs entries at the top of the page. Now I'll make a scan of the check and will be mailing copies to all junk debt buyers who want to come calling. It's the equivalent of putting Midland's head on a stake outside the city walls. 


You wanna try me? I'm ready for you. My law firm is open for business and my docs are tight. Let's go m-f'er and you can pay me, too. 

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