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Suttell & Hammer / Midland - Washington State

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So I was served last week by someone on behalf of Suttell & Hammer who was representing Midland who apparently bought a debt that I owe. The summons said that I had to serve my defense or notice to appear to Suttell & Hammer and the court within 20 days. I called S&H and asked for a settlement offer, which they offerred, I accepted, and I paid. They said that they would send me a letter in the mail in 21 days acknowledging the settlement of the debt. Well... 21 days past the payment date would make it beyond the date in the court docs of when I was supposed to answer. That didn't sound right to me, so I asked a lawyer on a 15 minute free consult what to do. He said to serve them and the court with a notice of appearance so that a default judgement couldn't be entered against me and then wait as they would likely drop the court case since I had paid. Today I had someone attempt to serve them and they are not at the office that they apparently used to be at and refused to give a physical address when requested to do so over the phone so that service could be completed. Instead they said to send it to them via fax and that would count as service. Again, this sounds shady, but the gal who attempted to serve them did in fact send it to them via fax as they requested and filled out an afadavit of service with the note about what happened. Tomorrow I will take it to the court and file it there as well. Am I being paranoid? Will they just drop the court thing since I have paid now? Or... ?

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Try to relax a bit--you should be fine.

 

Suttell and Hammer are paranoid.  They've had some highly publicized incidents and I'm sure they've stepped up their security measures to keep people out of their offices.  Since they're attorneys, they are officers of the court, so if you've settled, they could get in some serious trouble if they filed on a settled case.  If they did, it would most likely be an accident. (Most of the work is done by highly overworked and underpaid clerks.)

 

In Washington, they don't have to file with the court before serving the summons, so call or check the online docket before making a trip to the courthouse unless your summons included a number.  Chances are it hasn't been filed with the court and won't be now that you've settled and the trip to the courthouse would just be a waste of time.  They're not going to want to pay the filing fee for a settled case--they've got what they want.

 

The lawyer was spot on with the Notice of Appearance simply as a precaution.  The first thing I always do when I'm served is send a Notice of Appearance.  (And I usually don't answer unless and until they move for default.  I'm notified because I have in a Notice of Appearance, and I can just file an answer then to block the default.  We're not talking 20 days later--it's usually weeks or months later.)  If they do file--either accidently or intentionally--the Notice of Appearance means you're required to be notified.  It's easier to straighten it out then, rather than vacate later.

 

If I were you, I'd just call them back and ask what the hold up is on the letter they said they'd get to you, and until you have it in hand, keep an eye on the court docket.

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Thank you. I have never been sued before so I was very worried, and then after reading all the stuff online about these guys...

It was filed and there is a court number... I just didn't want to run into a situation where I paid them the settlement and then they still get a default judgement or something because I didn't send anything to the court within 20 days.

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Okay, the only thing I'd add is that since the case was actually filed, S&H should be voluntarily dismissing the case.  You should be getting an actual court form (Motion to Dismiss or something similar) as opposed to just a letter.  This is a pretty important part of the process because you don't want an open case record hanging out there.

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So I was served last week by someone on behalf of Suttell & Hammer who was representing Midland who apparently bought a debt that I owe. The summons said that I had to serve my defense or notice to appear to Suttell & Hammer and the court within 20 days. I called S&H and asked for a settlement offer, which they offerred, I accepted, and I paid. They said that they would send me a letter in the mail in 21 days acknowledging the settlement of the debt. Well... 21 days past the payment date would make it beyond the date in the court docs of when I was supposed to answer. That didn't sound right to me, so I asked a lawyer on a 15 minute free consult what to do. He said to serve them and the court with a notice of appearance so that a default judgement couldn't be entered against me and then wait as they would likely drop the court case since I had paid. Today I had someone attempt to serve them and they are not at the office that they apparently used to be at and refused to give a physical address when requested to do so over the phone so that service could be completed. Instead they said to send it to them via fax and that would count as service. Again, this sounds shady, but the gal who attempted to serve them did in fact send it to them via fax as they requested and filled out an afadavit of service with the note about what happened. Tomorrow I will take it to the court and file it there as well. Am I being paranoid? Will they just drop the court thing since I have paid now? Or... ?

Are they no longer located at 10900 108TH AVE NE STE 605 BELLEVUE WA?

 

Has the conversation of your settlement been recorded? Or can they say "thank your for your initial payment... when can we expected the rest of the amount?"

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