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Background

I was laid-off in 2016 and am now a full-time student receiving assistance from a few sources - I am on track to earning my bachelors in IT/Security this year (after 1 1/2 years of study).  In late 2016, my mother attempted suicide (due to prior abuse from her now ex-husband - stepfathers suck) which had brought a heavy burden upon my family and I. Nothing is more terrifying than having to drive from Atlanta to Alpharetta...not knowing whether your mom is dead or alive. Unfortunately, this combination of events has led me to largely ignore my financial situation and place me where I am today. Currently, I have close to $7,000 of debt supposedly purchased between 3 junk-debt buyers. Do I regret some of the decisions I made regarding my financial situation? I do. This lawsuit has opened my eyes as to the importance of resolving this situation. It's my hope that this community would be willing to assist me through this process. So, to anyone responding to this thread (and the many more I plan to make) - let me go ahead and state that I am greatly thankful for your time and input. 

Questionnaire 

1. Who is the named plaintiff in the suit?

MIDLAND (Blood-Sucking) FUNDING LLC DBA SYNCHRONY BANK

2. What is the name of the law firm handling the suit?

Green and Cooper LLP

3. How much are you being sued for? 

~$2200

4. Who is the original creditor?

SYNCHRONY BANK (Amazon Store Card)

5. How do you know you are being sued? 

The non-stop flood of lawyer advertisements

6. How were you served?

Someone dropped it off in person

7. Was the service legal as required by your state? 

Yes

8. What was your correspondence (if any) with the people suing you before you think you were being sued?

No correspondence - I logged into Midland's website to view amounts they were trying to collect after I was made aware of the lawsuit. 

9. What state and county do you live in?

Georgia Cobb County

10. When is the last time you paid on this account? 

05/2016

11. When did you open the account?

2014

12. What is the SOL on the debt?

6 years

13. What is the status of your case? 

Suit Served 

14. Have you disputed the debt with the credit bureaus. 

No

15. Did you request debt validation before the suit was filed? 

No

16. How long do you have to respond to the suit?

30 days

17. What evidence did they send with the summons? 

Exhibit A: Statement 12/21/2016

Exhibit B: Statement 1/22/2016

Exhibit C: Bill of Sale from OC, Affidavit of Sale from OC, Blanked Certificate of Conformity for Notary

Exhibit D: Electronic Field data 

Exhibit E: Affadavit from Midland's Legal Specialist

SCAN: complaint-clean.pdf

It's essentially the same as this user:

 

Goals

1. Dismissal with prejudice 

2. A clear understanding of the process for potential litigation in the future. 

My Questions

1. What do you recommend I should be doing now? Will it be possible to visit the court and obtain the complaint and relevant information before being served? 

I am currently awaiting to be served - I will update with the necessary information as soon as I obtain it. Ideally, I'd like to start this process and get a court date ASAP to get this behind me. 

2. I am planning on going to court prior to my hearing. Anything in particular I should look out for?

I am looking through active cases in my county similar to my lawsuit...taking note of the court date and judge.  I am planning on spending an entire day in court prior to my case to take note of practices/procedures within the courtroom - as well as any quirks the judge may have. 

3. Is arbitration a better option for me? Which CC agreement should I use?

From reading other threads on this forum; the most potent Midland Repellent™ is sending the case into arbitration per the cardholder agreement. My plan is to request this go into arbitration through JAMS. I have attached 2 cardholder agreements (from CFPB) - one pertaining to when I opened the card and the other for when the account was in last good standing. Ideally, it'll probably be best to use the agreement G&C provides (should they) - so they cannot argue the legitimacy should I provide one myself. If they don't, which agreement is recommended?

creditcardagreement_opening.pdf

creditcardagreement_goodstanding.pdf

4. When do I MTC Arbitration?

I suppose this question relates to my lack of understanding the procedure in depth (more on that below). It is my understanding that I will write up a document stating I wish to arbitrate my case, print 3 of them out, and provide them to the judge/lawyer. At which point should I provide this? Should it be the first words that come out of my mouth - when I submit my answer? 

5. Any "What Can Go Wrong" horror stories relating to choosing the route of arbitration? 

This will help me make a more informed decision about where I wish to take this case. 

6. Any literature/resources you recommend? 

I have a narrow view of the entire process in regards to procedure and process. I understand that though I'm representing myself; I will still be held-up to the same standards as a lawyer. Therefore, I'm well aware of the time and resources I will need to put into this to see this case end in my favor. If anyone has any resources/literature covering the magistrate courts in GA - it would be greatly appreciated! So far, my understanding probably represents what's in these videos: https://georgiamagistratecouncil.com/video-home/

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Thank you all for your time and consideration. I'm really glad a place like this exists and I look forward to participating in this community in the future!

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1 hour ago, thunder0932 said:

1. What do you recommend I should be doing now? Will it be possible to visit the court and obtain the complaint and relevant information before being served? 

I am currently awaiting to be served - I will update with the necessary information as soon as I obtain it. Ideally, I'd like to start this process and get a court date ASAP to get this behind me. 

2. I am planning on going to court prior to my hearing. Anything in particular I should look out for?

I am looking through active cases in my county similar to my lawsuit...taking note of the court date and judge.  I am planning on spending an entire day in court prior to my case to take note of practices/procedures within the courtroom - as well as any quirks the judge may have. 

 

Wait to be served and use your time/energy to read through the threads on this forum related to Georgia cases.   Unfortunately, there is no way to rush through any of this.  It takes time (especially if you expect more than one lawsuit is headed your way).   Prepare yourself mentally that it is just going to take time and it is going to be part of your life for a while but it will end eventually.  Try not to get discouraged. 

 

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Norm has some good points.  

Read through the forum about Georgia cases.  Norm is the go-to guy from Georgia.  

Also, you mentioned Synchronicity.  I believe that all of their credit cards have arbitration agreements. 

What does that mean?  Court is a very cheap way for them to collect money.  Arbitration is very expensive, and costs more to collect than what they could possibly collect.

Most JBDs, including Midland, have a strong aversion to arbitration.  If you can file an MTC for arbitration, that will get it out of the courts and into expensive arbitration.  It means they will probably walk away from the debt, rather than fight it out with you.  

While you are reading, also read up on arbitration and JAMS.  Look up their website to see  how to  file.  Ask questions here as they come up.  The more you learn on your own, the better, but we can help.  

 

You need some good luck in your life.  The great Louis Pasteur said: "Chance favors the prepared mind".  Prepare you mind so you can get your good luck.  

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3 hours ago, thunder0932 said:

Goals

1. Dismissal with prejudice 

2. A clear understanding of the process for potential litigation in the future. 

1.  The only way this will happen is if you successfully motion the court to compel them to arbitrate the case.  Synchrony has the BEST arbitration clause of all the creditors so you are good there.  Midland won't want to arbitrate so when they ask what you want THEN you ask them to dismiss with prejudice in a mutual walkaway.

2.  Magistrate Court in GA is about trial by ambush.  They do not allow discovery so you do not need to worry about that.  Most courts have a pre-printed answer form where you check off "denial" and then the clerk sets a trial date for 30-60 days out.  When you come to court you have 3 copies of the MTC arbitration with you and ready to go.  The Magistrate will send you and the Plaintiff's lawyer to the hallway to negotiate a settlement.  You refuse and stand firmly on arbitration.  (DO NOT let them push you to court ordered mediation it is not the same thing) You can find the thread on here from someone who got the MTC arbitration in Gwinnett approved and G&C was none too happy.  They whined about Midland not hiring them for that.  Not your problem.  The goal is that Midland tells G&C to drop the entire matter.

If your motion is denied trial is right then.  You need to be prepared for that.  There are plenty of threads to read on what to expect and how to handle it.

4 hours ago, thunder0932 said:

5. Any "What Can Go Wrong" horror stories relating to choosing the route of arbitration? 

The goal is not to actually arbitrate.  JAMS is so expense (far more than the debt) that JDBs don't do it.  There are a few original creditors like AMEX and Discover who are not deterred by the expense and will arbitrate all the way including appeals.  A bad case in court is a bad case in arbitration.  Again, the goal is an approved MTC arbitration so that Midland drops the entire matter.  Not to actually arbitrate.

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30 minutes ago, Clydesmom said:

Most courts have a pre-printed answer form where you check off "denial" and then the clerk sets a trial date for 30-60 days out.  When you come to court you have 3 copies of the MTC arbitration with you and ready to go.  The Magistrate will send you and the Plaintiff's lawyer to the hallway to negotiate a settlement.  You refuse and stand firmly on arbitration.  (DO NOT let them push you to court ordered mediation it is not the same thing)

Luckily I managed to find my case in the electronic filing system - I've set myself up with an account and made myself familiar with the submission process. :) I'll continue research into case preparation, common JDB arguments/attacks, and JAMS. Thanks a bunch! 

3 hours ago, NormInGeorgia said:

Wait to be served and use your time/energy to read through the threads on this forum related to Georgia cases.   Unfortunately, there is no way to rush through any of this.  It takes time (especially if you expect more than one lawsuit is headed your way).   Prepare yourself mentally that it is just going to take time and it is going to be part of your life for a while but it will end eventually.  Try not to get discouraged. 

2 hours ago, BackFromTheDebt said:

You need some good luck in your life.  The great Louis Pasteur said: "Chance favors the prepared mind".  Prepare you mind so you can get your good luck.  

Y'all are awesome, seriously, big thanks for the support and advice. I will keep all of this in mind as this case progresses in the upcoming months. The more I read about JDBs, the more comfortable I am fighting them. Just going through cases in Cobb county (hundreds for Midland), and seeing just how many go into default judgement gives me some motivation to continue this fight. I'll update this thread as soon as I'm served and ask any relevant questions when they come along. :)

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So, today was the day...my first (and hopefully last) time being served. I have updated my original post above with a scanned copy of the documents I received. 

What's the opinion on affidavit admissibility?

I've found contradictory statements in relation to this. I think the best route is to ask for the magistrate court rules for Cobb County - I assume I ask the clerks for that? I found a document titled "Introduction to Small Claims Court" on Cobb County's website and in it:

Quote

Although the Magistrate Court is a people's court, rules of evidence still apply when presenting a case. The court will not accept affidavits or letters, which are considered "hearsay." Estimates of repair bills without the maker of the estimates are not accepted. You must have the maker of any documents in court in order to offer them into evidence.  https://cobbcounty.org/images/documents/magistrate/intro_smallclaims.pdf

So...my take-away from this is exhibits A,B,C, and D are inadmissible for either being hearsay or lacking a credible witness from the OC.  Further, take out the affidavits and the only thing left is this heavily redacted Bill of Sale - which they seemingly found necessary to redact the title for some reason. 

---

My current plan is to sit on this for a week before I file my answer...then hit them with the MTC in court. 

 

 

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Looks like you know the proper course here.  File the answer denying everything, then the MTC in court when they meet with you in the Hall of Lies.  :)

G&C hates being hit with arbitration.  My suggestions based on the most recent cases in GA we have seen here is to respectfully object if they ask the judge for a continuance.  I would state that there is no need to continue the court case, because arbitration is the proper forum and after you "file today" they can ask the arbitrator if they need more time.  I expect this to not really work, but I would say it is worth a shot.  The new method JDB attorneys like G&C are using to "fight" arbitration is to continue to get as many continuances as possible to frustrate you and in hopes that you will miss the next court date for whatever reason allowing them to get a default.    While Magistrate Court rules do allow for one "free" continuance for any reason, the rules also say that the Magistrate judge is free to ignore any rule - so I would try anything I could to reduce the number of times I have to get back to court.  Just something to keep in mind.

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6 hours ago, fisthardcheese said:

My suggestions based on the most recent cases in GA we have seen here is to respectfully object if they ask the judge for a continuance.  I would state that there is no need to continue the court case, because arbitration is the proper forum and after you "file today" they can ask the arbitrator if they need more time.  I expect this to not really work, but I would say it is worth a shot.

In that case, should I press for dismissal with prejudice? Ideally I'd like to get a dismissal with prejudice...after whats happened recently (attached the thread below)...I'd really like to shut their **** down. 

Thanks for the suggestion! :)

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12 hours ago, thunder0932 said:

In that case, should I press for dismissal with prejudice?

That is the entire point of the MTC at court.  To leverage a dismissal with prejudice.  It may require another court date and filing the JAMS claim, so just prepare to follow through until they agree to the mutual dismissal (hopefully) with prejudice.

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Just got back from my hearing. 

It went relatively well. I must say, spending time in the Law Library helped a bunch as well as taking the entire day yesterday to observe the judge decreased my anxiety levels tremendously. Needless to say, I did a good job pissing off the lawyer. In the hallway, I mentioned the arbitration clause in the agreement and the lawyer stated "I've read the agreement, I know what it says". Then, I tried showing her the MTC and stated "I don't need to see that". The next thing I know, the lawyer tells me she's going to request a continuance and makes a mad dash back into the courtroom. Once I walk back into the courtroom, literally 10-15 seconds after the lawyer walks off, she's already chatting up with the Judge and I overhear her stating I wish to follow the arbitration clause in the cardholder agreement. I decide the best course of action is to stand in the middle of the courtroom and make it clear I want to be apart of this conversation. The Judge then validates my intent, and I make it clear that I wish to proceed with arbitration per the cardholder agreement.  Once I tell the Judge that I have a MTC prepared, the Judge proceeds to give me a "deer in headlights" look. It's then that the Judge welcomes me up to the podium to present her with the MTC. The Judge then asks the lawyer if I had shown her the MTC - she reluctantly says yes....I then chime-in stating the lawyer refused to look at it. 

My guess is that the lawyer wanted to see the case be continued with some dim hope that the MTC wouldn't be mentioned. At this point, I think the Judge realized that. 

You know what's really funny? After reviewing my MTC, the Judge proceeds to ask the lawyer if she has any arguments specifically towards the MTC. Keep in mind, I just told the Judge she refused to even look at it. Hell, I'm still holding onto her copy while speaking with the Judge. The lawyer's response was golden:

"The defendant hasn't applied with JAMS yet and I was just made aware of the intent to arbitrate" - Translated: "I'm well aware of the cardholder agreement we gave to the defendant and it's arbitration clause. At this point, I'm just gonna make stuff up. Additionally, I can't make any arguments against the MTC because I didn't bother looking at it"

The Judge then points this out in the cardholder agreement:

"If a party files a lawsuit in court asserting claim(s) that are subject to arbitration and the other party files a motion with the court to compel arbitration, which is granted, it will be the responsibility of the party asserting the claim(s) to commence the arbitration proceeding."

The Judge stated that her take on that was Midland is required to initiate JAMS. The Judge asked again if there was anything else the plaintiff wanted to add....no says the lawyer. It's at this point the Judge turns to me and says she's going to file my MTC and issue a 30 day continuance awaiting Midland to commence the JAMS proceedings. She says I'm free to go and tells the lawyer to wait for the paperwork. 

It took me a bit to process everything that occurred within that short time....but it eventually clicked. I proceeded to laugh my a$$ off for the next 20 minutes driving home. 

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Kudos to you for doing your homework and preparing!  Now you need to wait and see if they initiate arbitration with JAMS.

You know you're doing something right when you can laugh your a$$ off at something along the way.  I know I've pi$$ed off the attorney I've been up against a few times.  I actually look forward to those moments now. :D

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@thunder0932 You did an outstanding job, especially asserting yourself into the conversation that the attorney was attempting to have with the judge alone.  That is very impressive and the way you must operate in Magistrate Court.

It seems that the G&C attorneys are starting to get upset with all of the people they are running into asking for arbitration. :lol:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Since you never were able to hand your copy of the MTC to the attorney, if this were me - and I don't believe this is required at all, but it is what I would personally do for fun - I would mail a copy of my MTC to the attorney anyway.  Just as a little reminder for them to file the JAMS case in the next 30 days.  :)

Great job!!!!!!

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